SURROUNDED by her three young sons, Yeo Moriba looks the picture of matriarchal pride and ambition.
Taken in the modest council flat in suburban Paris where she brought the boys up alone, it was posted by one of them to celebrate Mother’s Day this year.
Now Yeo’s sense of contentment has multiplied a few millions times over, because that son is none other than Paul Pogba, who is now officially the most expensive footballer in the world.
Before his world record £100million move from Juventus to Manchester United was announced, Pogba posted the moving Instagram tribute to the devout Muslim ‘supermum’ who has had more influence on him than anyone else.
‘Happy Mother’s Day to my Mamso, who God blesses,’ wrote the 23-year-old, who has inherited her love of the Islamic faith.
‘I had the luck to be your son, and I’m proud that you’re my mother, the son’s mother!’
It was on the Renardiere housing estate in Roissy-en-Brie, to the east of the French capital’s centre, that Pogba grew up with Mathias and Florentin, who are twins three years older than him.
All of them were taught from early childhood to put their religious faith and love of family above all else.
‘Yeo wanted the very best for all of them from day one, but this was nothing to do with money’ said a former neighbour of the 15th storey tower block where the family lived.
‘She absolutely adored her boys, and didn’t care who knew it,’ the source added. ‘Day-to-day life could be a struggle, but she knew all the boys were going places.
‘If anybody did anything to upset them, or hold them back, then Yeo did not care about upsetting anyone, or losing money. She just wanted her boys to be happy.’
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson learnt the lesson the hard way, towards the end of Pogba’s ill-fated first spell with the Red Devils.
The iron-willed Yeo and the rest of her family persuaded him to seek a transfer back in 2012, saying at the time: ‘We got together with Paul’s brothers and decided that he would not sign a new deal.
‘Ferguson punished him by never playing Paul. He was alone.
‘He even cried in Ferguson’s office because of the way he was treated.’
Now Yeo is having the last laugh.
When Pogba jetted in to Manchester from a sunshine holiday in the U.S., it was Yeo who was sitting next to him with a wide grin on her face.
The formidable ‘super mum’ – as the boys often refer to her – separated from her husband Antoine in 1996, when little Paul was just two.
Antoine, who continued to live nearby, had left his job as a telecommunications engineer in N’Zerekore, in Guinea, on the west coast of Africa in the early 90s.
He worked as a schoolteacher around Roissy-en-Brie, and was always taking the boys to play football, and to watch local club, Paris St Germain, and Marseille down south.
Now 77, Antoine is particularly proud at having introduced his lad to the Roissy-en-Brie football club, where Pogba played his first competitive game.
All three boys were keen Marseille fans at the time, and soon began developing successful careers – ones that saw Mathias and Florentin representing the Guinea national side.
‘Paul was always that much better, and it was Yeo who pushed him towards playing for France,’ said another source in Roissy-en-Brie.
‘They are all immensely proud of their roots, but France is where they made it, and they knew that Les Bleus would have a much better chance of winning major trophies.’
Aware of his incredible talent, and the growing interest of big name clubs, Yeo was very strict about keeping Pogba’s feet on the ground.
‘She never wanted him to forget who he was as a person, nor that he was a proud Muslim,’ said the neighbour on the Renardiere estate.
‘They often prayed at their local mosque, and observed religious holidays. Yeo is convinced that this helped Paul enormously as he was growing up.
‘Roissy-en-Brie can be a rough town, but none of the Pogba boys were any trouble at all – they were terrific lads.
‘Table tennis was the first sport they all were really good at, which gives you an idea of how gentle they were.’
In June, Pogba reaffirmed his Muslim faith publicly by posting another Instagram picture of himself in a Paris mosque.
It was snapped during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, when Pogba made a financial donation to the mosque.
He wrote: ‘Happy Ramadan to all my brothers and sisters, may Allah forgive our sins and accept our prayers.
‘Ramadan is about getting closer to God, no sins, praying on time, donating, helping people in need.
‘Nobody is perfect but we all can get closer. We must not hate anybody we must all love each other.’
Despite being so devout, Pogba has always been encouraged by his mother to live like ‘an ordinary young man.’
This means listening to rap music, wearing trendy clothes and jewellery, and taking out glamorous girlfriends.
He is currently stepping out with Lisa Thiolon, a Paris business studies student whom he met when she was working as a hospitality manager at his old club, Juventus, in Turin, during the 2013/14 season.
The couple have a ‘very relaxed relationship, and don’t like to make a fuss about it,’ said a friend of Lisa’s. ‘It can be a bit on-off, but they are very happy.’
Lisa happens to speak perfect English, however, and many feel she might have her eye on becoming Pogba’s official wag in Manchester.
‘Lisa is between jobs, so Manchester United would be an obvious place for her to go and work,’ said the same source, who added: ‘I think she’ll have to persuade Paul’s mum that it’s a good idea first though.’
Riots have broken out on the Renardiere estate, where Yeo brought up Pogba, over the years, as youths from immigrant background protest against what they see as discrimination in everything from employment to policing.
Drugs are also widely available on the rabbit warren estates, where gangsters often try to recruit fit, sporty youngsters like the Pogba brothers.
‘Yeo was having none of it,’ said the source.
‘She was in floods of tears when Paul went off to play in other parts of France as a boy, but she knew it was for the best.
‘He was getting off the estate, and succeeding in the wide world outside.
‘All of the lads did the same. None of them drink or get involved in any kind of trouble.’
Another of Pogba’s first gestures when he began to earn huge amounts of money as a player was to buy Yeo a new flat in Bussy-Saint-Georges, a commuter town slightly closer to central Paris than Roissy-en-Brie.
‘She’s very happy there – the flat is beautiful and has everything she needs, but she’s still very modest and down-to-earth,’ said the source.
‘Yeo knows that the private jets, flash cars and masses of cash that are being thrown at Paul mean nothing compared to his family.’
Pogba is particularly well known for his radical head shavings – a trait that his mum also had a hand in.
‘Paul’s haircuts, that comes from me, I change mine all the time,’ said Yeo.
- Culled from Dailymail Online