Dimitri Payet, a creative mastermind that left defenders on the deck, fans off their seats and pundits in awe. Double decent!
Among Dimitri Payet during his own period as a Premier League player, a number of players have provided breathtaking seasons since the league was formed in ’92, Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure and Gareth Bale to name a few. None of them quite had the impact that he managed to have in such a short space of time.
Oh by the way, for the benefit of this particular article, we’re going to purposefully forget his ignominious departure from the club a couple years later – there’ll be plenty of time for that!
Back to when he was loved …
Dimitri Payet landed in East London in the summer of 2015 for a fee of £10.7 Million. As all West Ham fans know, it’s not advised to get excited about a new player, they often turn out to be one of those ‘classic West Ham signings’.
A big name often accompanied by a big price tag, (if you’re wondering where all of these other signings are, may I suggest looking through the squads of the Turkish Süper Lig).
But Payet was different, oh so very different.
West Ham had found the one, it was a beautiful romance, a match made in football heaven; but like all great romances, they often end in tears with your favourite hoodie left in their drawer.
Sorry, I lost focus there for a moment, how about we just forget about all that bad stuff for just now? Let’s sit back and reminisce on the wonder that is Dimitri Payet. And maybe one day I can get that hoodie back. If you feel like treating the writer in your life, then it’s a Black Nike 100% cotton number – size M.
… it has a slight tear in the neckline from where we … *ahem* … right, that’s enough!
Payet provided English football fans with one of the most outstanding individual seasons ever witnessed, tallying 9 goals and 12 assists in 30 Premier League games. Dimitri wasn’t about the numbers though, it was more how he played the game that had us all in a trance. It’s what the Brazilians call Joga Bonito!
Effortlessly gliding in and out of defenders as if they weren’t there, dancing his way through midfields before picking out a pass that a prime Paul Scholes would be proud of, and it left everyone in the stands scratching their heads.
“Did this guy only cost £10.7 Million?”
Yes! He really did only cost 10.7 Million!
Through all of his individual brilliance he may be remembered for one thing and one thing only. That free-kick.You know the one, right? The one where you questioned physics? A 7-man Crystal Palace wall stood in his way, Wayne Hennessey daring him to beat him. In typical Payet fashion he stepped up, struck it clean and watched it dip.
Time stood still as the ball floated over the wall and clipped the underside of the bar, on the keepers side (LOL), before nestling in the top right corner.
Upton Park erupted as Dimitri Payet ran over to the corner flag, arms outstretched with a face as smug as your mum’s when she told you to bring a jacket when you left the house, and now you’re all cold and shivering and what-not. A screamer, a scorcher, a peach and all the rest of the adjectives in the dictionary, this was a special goal by a special player.
A star was born and it felt like it couldn’t have came at a better time.
Payet was lighting up the Boleyn Ground in what would be its final ever season as West Ham’s home, before moving to the rejuvenated Olympic Stadium. He was the catalyst in what would be one of the clubs greatest Premier League seasons, breaking club records for number of points, number of goals scored and fewest defeats in a single league season.
To cap it off, a 7th place finish meaning European football for The Hammers. Dimitri Payet was a shiny new entry in West Ham folklore alongside Paolo Di Canio, Carlos Tevez and, of course, Kevin Nolan.