Payet plans Theatre of Dreams spectacular

Dimitri Payet was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a trip to Old Trafford back in December and so has even more reason to relish his first taste of the Theatre of Dreams in the last eight of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday. 

It will come as no surprise that the Reunion-born midfielder likes nothing more than putting on a show for supporters and the Old Trafford stage will be his this time, albeit some three months later than planned.   

The 28-year-old was an interested observer as Manchester United toiled at Anfield in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, exertions that could, he hopes, play into West Ham hands. 

“Of course I watched the game on Thursday night,” he confirmed. “I saw a wholehearted game and we hope that they left plenty out there and they won't be fresh. I hope we can take advantage on Sunday.  

“It [Old Trafford] is a top Premier League ground and one that I love and I was very disappointed to miss the league game when I was injured. I look forward to playing there this time.” 

With a Wembley semi-final the prize, the stakes on Sunday are as high as ever, but Payet’s approach is not likely to change. Like his idol Ronaldinho, the Hammers’ No27 is an entertainer, but only ever in so far as it propels his side to victory.            

He continued: “I still approach football as a game. Even though there’s a lot at stake these days, particularly money, I try to treat it like a game. The supporters are there to watch good football too.
“You can say he [Ronaldinho] liked to humiliate defenders, but what he did always had an end product for the team, that's what I liked about him. He can put on a show but he was always effective and helping his team to win.”       

As the season winds towards its finale, talk of Footballer of the Year nominations only intensifies and Payet’s name continues to be bandied about. It’s no preoccupation for the former Marseille man but would be a feather in his cap all the same.         

“I'd be very happy to be nominated. It's still less than a year that I've been here, I've had great moments and some less good with the injury which kept me away from the pitch for two months. I worked very hard to get back and honestly I'm having an exceptional season, so it would be a big thing for me.”