Once upon a time, in a land called Vikaastan, lived a boy named Paul Pogba. Yes, after the Pogba of Manchester United.
To say that his parents were fans of the football club is an understatement. Their home was a tribute to the team: Posters, flags, jerseys, mufflers, mugs, keychains… whatever merchandise comes to mind, they had it.
Everything was red. They are called the “Red Devils” for a reason. It’s truly amazing how one colour now evokes only one particular football club.
But up until now (he was 16), he was actually called John Terry. (You guessed it; after the famous Chelsea defender.)
But now, Chelsea is on the decline. They needed a stronger team with a stronger leader.
His name, which was once a source of pride, had to be changed. It now served as a reminder of a past better forgotten.
John Terry, I mean Paul Pogba, was a confused child. Just when everyone was getting used to his name, he now had to change it.
The identity crisis would extend to those around him. His friends had to consciously call him Paul Pogba instead of John Terry. Sometimes, he didn’t respond to his new name.
It was utter confusion.
However, Manchester United just suffered a humiliating loss to Everton (4-0 at that). His parents were getting a bit nervous and in a bid to reinforce their faith in the team, they wanted to show their loyalty by changing their son’s name.
Poor boy. He sat up nights agonising over how being called Paul Pogba would change his life.
He wished his parents were more concerned about things that involved his development. You know, things like his interest in badminton instead of football; how he needed a better Maths tutor; how his school had incompetent teachers in general.
But he knew he couldn’t bring these issues up with his parents. Badminton was a no-go area.
The rival family next door, who were Newcastle supporters (the horror!), sent their son for badminton classes. It wasn’t a suitable activity for nice, respectable Manchester United supporters like them. Imagine their son fraternising with the enemy. It was unacceptable. No, he couldn’t bring it up.
“This name change business is useless,” thought Paul Pogba, as he waited in court to get his name legally changed.
“Can’t I keep my name as John Terry? All this name changing does is cause my friends confusion,” he pleaded with his parents.
“How will the team know that we are loyal supporters if we don’t change your name?” replied his mother incredulously.
“Now I have to change all my official documents – passport, school papers, residence certificates. Even my social media. Do you know how many followers I will lose?” moaned poor Paul Pogba.
“Enough of this nonsense,” barked his father. “You will only get that football training reservation if you show these people that you are a staunch and loyal supporter.”
But Paul Pogba wanted to play badminton. He wished he could just go out and play with the boy next door. If only his neighbour’s parents did not support Newcastle instead of Manchester United. Then they would have all been associated with the colour red and could have been friends.
He could not ask for a new Maths tutor either. The present one was incompetent and could not even teach him basic trigonometry. But the tutor was a Man Utd supporter. It did not matter that his knowledge of Maths was close to nil. It was more important to show that they only employed supporters.
But, it currently looks like Manchester United is losing this Premier League. He could sense his parents’ nervousness. They kept talking about how Manchester United was the only club that could consistently show good results.
The current losses were just a temporary setback; a ploy to make the other teams complacent. Then, Manchester United will ‘strike back’ with ‘military precision’ and beat them on their ‘home turf’.
I mean, what is the point of having an arsenal of players like Paul Pogba (his new namesake), Anthony Martial, and David DeGea? To only release them on special occasions?
So, Paul Pogba resigned himself to the name change. He needed the football reservation. He also understood that his parents needed to show that they were supporters of the club to make that happen.
He would just have to deal with his bad Maths tutor and incompetent school teachers. After all, they were all supporters of the colour ‘red’. To be red was more important than things like overall development.