West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has revealed he sent Dimitri Payet a text to massage his ego prior to France’s opening match at Euro 2016 against Romania.
The Hammers playmaker shone in Friday’s curtain raiser and capped a fantastic all-round performance with the winning goal in the 89th minute.
The 29-year-old outshone the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann at the Stade de France, and Bilic can take a small amount of credit for his star player’s performance.
“I texted Dimitri Payet to wish him all the best,” Bilic wrote in his Daily Mail column. “The text read: ‘Enjoy it, you have nothing to prove, you are the best player there.’ I wasn’t wrong, was I? He was fantastic.
“Everything about him was great, he was making other players better, he was making simple passes, through balls, he was making an assist for Olivier Giroud — and then he was topping it off with that thing; that flick he has done in the middle of the park so many times for West Ham, which is good for the crowd and gives confidence to the team.”
If Payet delivers performances like the one he gave on Friday night throughout the tournament, Europe’s top clubs will surely come calling – but that’s not something which concerns Bilic.
“Some will say it is a double-edged sword for West Ham, and myself and that if Dimitri continues to play like that, there will be other big clubs circling. I don’t think that his performances will encourage a club bigger than us to try and get him — I just enjoy his football and I am glad for him.”
Bilic tried – and failed – to sign Payet from Marseille during his time as Besiktas manager, but he finally got his man when he took charge of West Ham last summer.
The Frenchman moved to Upton Park for £11.25million and went on to score 12 times and notch 15 assists in a stunning debut season with the Premier League club.
Payet and France are next in European Championship action on Wednesday, when they meet Albania at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.
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