Dimitri Payet is a French footballer who plays mostly as a winger for Olympique Marseille and the French national team. Often cited as a mercurial talent, Payet has had his share of ups and downs with the fans and media. However, his performances for club and country has been consistently appreciated by supporters and critics alike.
Payet was born on 29 March 1987 in Saint Pierre, Reunion islands. He started playing football for local clubs before moving to France to play for Le Havre. He briefly returned to his country of birth to play for AS Excelsior.
Payet is among the late bloomers in the international stage. His senior team debut came way back in 2010 during his incredible season with Saint Etienne. It was in a friendly against Romania during the dying moments of the match. He capitalized on the limited chance he was given by bagging an assist. Despite doing decently well for the national team, he had to wait till 2015 to finally get enough opportunities.
Rise to glory
Payet grabbed the headlines when he was signed by West Ham United from Marseille. He already had a reputation of having flashy dribbling and shooting skills in France. He featured twice in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season in a space of three years.
His performances for Lille and Marseille tempted the Hammers to get his signature. And the impact he created in his first season was one etched in football enthusiasts. He ripped apart defenses and scored curlers. He was named the Hammer of the season 2015/16.
He followed it up with a sensational Euro 2016 campaign where he lighted up the group stage with his stoppage time screamer against Romania that handed France an important 2-1 victory.
He scored two more goals in the tournament to emerge as one of the most valuable players for France. Unfortunately, the magic eluded him in the final as France fell to an agonising defeat to Portugal at home. Payet was included in the Team of the Tournament.
After spending his junior level at various clubs, his first big break was his move from Reunion based Excelsior to Nantes. At Nantes, he reveled in the central midfield role. After two seasons, he joined Saint Etienne. While he performed well in all the seasons, it was particularly in his final season at the club when he broke the glass ceiling. He bagged 13 goals in the league and also got a national team call up.
Payet was sold to Lille where he spent two seasons and became an indispensable cog. His creativity in the final third of the opposition half routinely created goal scoring chances. After Lille he spent two successful seasons at Marseille and was also adjudged the club player of the 2014/15 season.
He hit peak form during his first season for West Ham. He became a fan favorite and a transfer interest of top teams like Chelsea. His fall in popularity was as extraordinary as his rise. He fell out with the club authorities over their reluctance to let him join bigger club.
His form dipped in the 2016/17 and he went on a strike with the club over the transfer saga. Payet had the final say as he cited family reasons to strike a hefty deal for a second stint at Marseille in the January window in 2017. It raised huge questions on his loyalty and commitment.
Nevertheless, it has been a smooth sailing so far at Marseille as he regularly contributes for the team through goals and assists.