Thomas Meunièr: PSG’s marauding right-back

iThe footballing world is like a maze which keeps throwing new dimensions and nuances for all those who love the game with all their heart. Just when you believe that you finally know it all and have mastered the game, there is something which the game throws up at you leaving you in a state of daze and confusion.

How many of you are familiar with the fact that one of the greatest legends of the game- Ian Wright almost opted to give up on the game at one stage in favour of a regular profession? That’s certainly accurate although it seems unbelievable in nature. Wright almost decided to become a plasterer at one stage before his heart reigned supreme over the min gifting the footballing world an absolute genius.

Dado Prso, a Croatian footballer who enjoys a legendary status in Scottish footballing history, having been a part of Monaco’s iconic 2003-04 squad which earned a spot in the finals of the UEFA Champions League is another example. Prso was weary after facing rejection on a constant basis from footballing outfits and was extremely inclined to pursue a career as a mechanic. However, luck smiled when he expected it the least setting the stage for an iconic career.

There have been several talented footballers over the years who opted to pursue other passions rather than a career in the game whose absence will be felt at every stage. However, football has pulled off a massive coup by drawing in the attention of a talented PSG footballer who seems all set to emerge as one of the best in the game having initially nursed aspirations of becoming a cartoon artist.

The footballer being referred to is none other than Belgian right-back Thomas Meunier who has been one of the most impressive defenders in recent times and almost became a cartoon artist because of his love for Bugs Bunny. However, the youngster who supported English giants Manchester United as a kid found real happiness only with a ball to juggle or pass.

“When I had a ball at my feet, I was happy,” he reminisces with nostalgia in his heart. The 27-year-old caught the attention of footballing scouts who urged him to join Standard Liege following his impressive performances for Saint-Ode. However, things were not as rosy as his new club who opted to release him 2 years later deeming him as not good enough for the squad.

The decision certainly hardened him as an individual and encouraged him to devote his utmost efforts towards proving his critics wrong. “If you are, just like me at that age, purely focused on football and your club tell you that you’re not good enough it can be a shock.”

The Belgian right-back decided to forego his ego with the desire to prove a point through regular game time at third division club Virton. Life was certainly not easy with the youngster forced to operate as a warehouse worker and postman in order to fund his daily expenses. However, fortune smiled at him when he least expected it to.

Belgian side Club Brugge recognised the potential and immense hunger he enjoyed, opting to take a punt on his services. The decision paid off rich dividends as Meunier converted into an aggressive right-back capable of winning games singlehandedly after enjoying the confidence of the fans and manager himself. His performances earned him a call-up on the international stage from Belgium for the Euro 2016 where was ultra impressive.

While Meunier may have been prepared for an international call-up having garnered quite an impression back home, what he had not expected was an offer from French giants Paris St Germain. While the 27-year-old certainly struggled early on in a new atmosphere and new footballing culture, he has slowly developed into one of the most attractive and effective defenders in the game with his reliable performances in the back and utmost composure.

The Belgian managed to fend off competition from legendary defender Dani Alves, earning the confidence of the gaffer and fans themselves who hardly felt the absence of the Brazilian. Meunier is more than capable of scoring remarkable goals, having scored long-rangers at regular intervals for the French outfit with his desire to counter-attack at every possible opportunity leaving the opposition in a state of terror.

The 27-year-old has emerged as a game-changer with the ball at his feet, indicating a tendency to go for glory in the final third which has made the difference in many a clash. Meunier certainly did his glowing reputation no form during the recently concluded world cup in Russia for Belgium with his pace, composed performances drawing praise from teammates, manager Roberto Martinez and experts alike.

PSG have kicked off the 2018-19 season on a roll having emerged unbeaten so far in the Ligue 1 which has been largely possible due to efficient performances by the likes of Meunier, Neymar through thick and thin. The 27-year-old’s example will certainly stand out as a source of immense motivation for all emerging youngsters who are considering a career in the game.

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