Paul Pogba served as a model to young stars like Kylian Mbappe in France's youthful World Cup-winning squad, Les Bleus' coach Didier Deschamps has told kicker.
Pogba came in for major criticism prior to the tournament with France said to be lacking the dressing room leaders required to fulfill their potential.
In Russia, however, the Manchester United midfielder was central to the triumph of the second-youngest squad ever to reach the summit of world football after Brazil's legendary 1970 side.
"He didn't surprise me. Paul is a nice guy, who listens, who has always thought of the team first. I have spoken a lot with him," Deschamps said. "In our squad, he is -- at 25 -- in the middle in terms of age. For the youngsters in the team, he's done it, he is almost a model of how things are done.
"He played the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. Before the tournament, it was bandied around a lot that we were lacking leaders and character. They all shaped up during the tournament."
While Pogba's stature and reputation grew in Russia, those of Mbappe were inflated to global status.
The teenage Paris Saint-Germain forward drew favourable comparisons with the iconic Pele as he took the tournament by storm, becoming the second-youngest player after the legendary Brazilian to score in a World Cup final in the 4-2 defeat of Croatia in Moscow.
"A year and a half ago, no-one knew who he was, now he's world champion," Deschamps said. "He does things others aren't able to. Despite that, he keeps his feet on the ground and is already very mature even though he's only 19.
"He says he's not the spokesman of the team out of respect for the elders in the squad. I think that's very good. I'm very happy he wears a Bleu shirt."
While Mbappe grabbed the headlines for his spectacular contribution to the cause, N'Golo Kante also drew praise as the Chelsea midfielder anchored the team's challenge.
"It's rare that such a quiet guy is held in such esteem. By fans and by the team," Deschamps added, himself the midfield driving force behind his country's 1998 World Cup win. "He's very quiet, 'NG' isn't one for the media, he shies away from the light. But for the team, he was the sunshine of the tournament. He was our little phenomenon."