Prem’s ‘most hated player’ helped win the World Cup despite 0 caps for his country | Football | Sport

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West Ham star Michael Antonio claimed earlier this campaign that Maupay is the most ‘disliked’ player in the top-flight. Antonio joked that the Frenchman might eventually be ‘beaten up’ if he continues to get under the skin of his opponents.

“Maupay is known to be a bit of a wind-up. I know someone who knows him and he’s meant to be a nice guy off the pitch but he does it on purpose. I feel he goes on the pitch to rub people up the wrong way and he’s known for it now,” Antonio told the Footballers’ Football Podcast.

“He is probably the most disliked person on the field. One of these days he is going to get beaten up! Back in the day things used to happen in the tunnel, but it’s 2024 now and you probably wouldn’t get away with it.”

Episodes involving Maddison and Walker were just two controversies in Maupay’s long history of ruffling feathers. The former Brighton man, whose recent purple patch saw him score five goals in as many matches, has even claimed to have had a helping hand in a World Cup-winning campaign.

Maupay has never played for 2018 champions France, but an incident involving Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno was the first in a domino effect that saw Emi Martinez become an Argentine hero in 2022.

Leno collided with Maupay in the latter stages of Brighton’s 2-1 victory over the Gunners in 2020, a match sealed thanks to Maupay’s winning strike. Leno was forced off and was unable to play for the remainder of the season, allowing Martinez to make his first Premier League appearance in three years.

The Argentine shot-stopper, who had previously tumbled around several EFL loan spells, excelled and joined Aston Villa later that year. His form in the Midlands saw him capped by Argentina and he became his country’s first-choice goalkeeper prior to travelling to Qatar.

Maupay later reflected: “I got so many messages that said I basically won the World Cup. Leno got injured after contact with me and then Emi played and then for Argentina, so yeah.”

But he hit back at critics: “It is a tricky one because if we lose games and we don’t score then all of a sudden it is the strikers fault.”

Maupay has revealed that he one day hopes to return to Nice, where he was controversially dropped by then-manager Claude Puel before his move to Saint-Etienne in 2015. He debuted aged 16 in Ligue 1 for his boyhood club, and recently said: “The coach at the time kicked me out. It was heartbreaking.

“My ambition was to establish myself in my favourite club, as I had done in all the youth categories, and become its flagship striker. I wasn’t so lucky. There is a little taste of unfinished business of course.”

Now in a second spell at Brentford, on loan from Everton, Maupay can help to realise that dream by keeping the Bees in the Premier League. One certainty is that Maupay will continue to wind up the opposition no matter what form he’s in.

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