Kylian Mbappé
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Kylian Mbappé: France’s Prolific No. 10 and the Star’s Remarkable Journey to Becoming a Football Legend

Who is Kylian Mbappe?

Kylian Mbappé got recognized as a prodigious talent from a young age. Still just 24 years old, he won a World Cup and finished with the Golden Boot and Silver Ball at another. In Qatar 2022, he became only the second man ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. He has also just been named captain of his country France.

With his club side, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), for whom he is now the all-time top scorer, he has won a host of domestic silverware and has been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year three times. He has been the league’s top scorer in the past four seasons and, in the 2021-2022 league campaign, became the first player to finish as the league’s leading scorer and assist provider.

European honors are the only thing that needs to be added to his CV so far. The desire for such a trophy could tempt him to move abroad in the not-too-distant future, with Real Madrid an often-linked potential destination.

It is also a matter of time before he wins the Ballon d’Or.

His popularity extends beyond France. He has a social media audience of over 100 million followers, a level of celebrity experienced by few people worldwide.

Kylian Mbappe

That reflects his talent and appeal to a global audience, and with his career yet to reach its ceiling, his influence on and off the field can only expect to grow.

Early Life

Mbappé was born in 1988 into an immigrant family. His father, Wilfried, had emigrated from Cameroon, while his mother, Fayza Lamari, is of Algerian descent. He was raised in the Parisian suburb of Bondy, one of the city’s infamous banlieues known for their high crime and unemployment, producing a long line of talented French players.

The sport was in the family. His mother had been a gifted handball player, while an adopted brother also became a professional football player. And his younger brother Etnan has followed him to PSG.

Meanwhile, his father was a coach and director for the local football club AS Bondy, and Mbappé joined their youth set-up when he was just six years old.

A big football fan growing up, his idols included Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazário, and Cristiano Ronaldo, and his stated dream was to one day play for Real Madrid.

He attended a private Catholic school where he was considered academically gifted, although somewhat unruly in the classroom.

Mbappé soon stood out from other players of his age with his exceptional speed and ball control, with respected youth team coaches declaring that he was the best that they had ever seen at that level. He soon came to national attention and was invited to join the prestigious Clairefontaine Academy, France’s elite center for developing players.

When he was just 11, Real Madrid invited him to Spain to play for their under-12 side and visit the club’s facilities, while three years later, he traveled to London to play a match for a Chelsea youth side at their request.

By this time, he was on the radar of nearly every top side in Europe, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich all interested in signing him.

Kylian Mbappé

Instead, at 14, he opted for Monaco, principally because he and his father believed the route to first-team football was more accessible there than at some of the bigger clubs.

His family also thought he was too young to move abroad at that career stage.

Club-wise career and achievements

Monaco initially signed him for their B team, but so great was the promise that he showed in his early training sessions that he got promoted to the first team squad in a matter of weeks. When he debuted in a league match against Caen, he became Monaco’s youngest-ever player – 18 days short of his 17th birthday.

Two months later, he became the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer.

The following year, though, was a breakthrough one for both the player and the club.

He scored his first hat trick for the club in a league match and then followed that up with another in the league. He also began to make his mark in Europe, with Champions League goals against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund.

He would finish with 26 goals from 44 appearances that season, as Monaco broke PSG’s domestic dominance to win the Ligue 1 title.

That was enough to convince PSG to sign him, initially on loan, but with provisions to make the deal permanent (which got subsequently exercised). Although heavily performance related, the subsequent terms meant that the fee paid for him constituted the most expensive fee for a teenager, and it was also the costliest deal between two clubs in the same league.

It was not a foregone conclusion that he would join PSG, however. Real Madrid also wanted to sign him, but Mbappé’s family convinced him to join PSG and not the Spanish club after they went to his house and promised that he would start for them in the Champions League, despite his young age at the time.

He scored on his debut against Metz, while his first Champions League goal for his new club came away in a group match in Glasgow against Celtic. Mbappé was part of the side that won a league and Cup double that year.

The following season, after he was handed squad number seven following the departure from the club of Lucas Moura, he was the inaugural winner of the Kopa Trophy, awarded by France Football to the best young player in the world under the age of 21. He would be named Ligue 1 Player of the Year as PSG retained their league title.

He was sent off for the first and only time in his career in the French Cup final of 2019, getting his marching orders for a bad tackle on a Rennes player.

Kylian Mbappe

The Covid pandemic overshadowed 2020. PSG was declared champions after the league got called off because they were leading it then, and Mbappé was named the top scorer. He tied with Monaco’s Wassim Ben Yedder but had a superior goals-per-game ratio.

However, ultimately the season would end in disappointment. PSG reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history but went down to a single goal scored by Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman in Lisbon.

Having contracted Covid while on national team duty, Mbappé missed the start of the following season, but he was soon amongst the goals again, scoring his 100th for PSG in a league match against Montpellier.

He also became the youngest footballer to score 20 Champions League goals (although Erling Haaland has since surpassed his record).

More records were to follow – the first player to have scored five braces in a Ligue 1 season and the youngest man to score 25 Champions League goals (another record Haaland was to take off him).

Although PSG won the French Cup that year, it was the first time he had failed to win the league title, with Lille claiming it instead. As a consolation prize, he has been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year again.

Rumors that he wanted to sign for Real Madrid meant that PSG fans booed him at the start of the following season, but he shrugged that off and became the youngest player to score 30 Champions League goals in a home win over Club Brugge.

A few days after that, he reached 100 league goals for PSG.

Following intense speculation, before the end of the season, he chose to extend his stay in Parus until 2025 on improved new terms, which reportedly included a signing-on bonus of £95 million.

He celebrated that by scoring a hat-trick in a win over Metz, as PSG regained their league title. He finished the top scorer in the league for the fourth successive season and became the first player to top both the scoring and assist charts in the same season.

Mbappé has continued to prove his worth to what is sometimes a dysfunctional PSG team during the current season. Among the highlights was the first goal in a hat-trick away at Lille, which, clocked at just 8 seconds, is the second fastest ever scored in Ligue 1.

Kylian Mbappe

Then, in January, in the French Cup, he became the first PSG player to score five goals in a match against the minnows of Pays de Cassel.

In February, his goal against Nantes took him past the previous record of Edinson Cavani to become the all-time top scorer for PSG. He has now scored 202 goals in 251 appearances for them.

However, despite his best efforts, the club continues to struggle in the Champions League, crashing out to Bayern Munich again this season.

And, while that continues, speculation linking Mbappé with a move away from the club will continue. There have been reports that he does not get along well with several of his current teammates, including Neymar and Lionel Messi, with the three constantly vying for the top dog at the Paris club.

International career

Having been capped by France at the under-17 and under-19 levels, Mbappé got selected to represent the senior squad for the first time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He scored his first goal in a group game against Peru, becoming the country’s youngest-ever international goalscorer.

Two more goals followed against Argentina, then he scored in the competition’s final against Croatia in Moscow, becoming only the second teenager after Pelé to score in a World Cup final.

Not only did he pick up a winner’s medal, but he was also named the Best Young Player of the Tournament.

His second major tournament, Euro 2020, was a disappointing one for him. He failed to score in any of the four games that France played in the competition, and he missed a penalty as they were knocked out in the round of 16 by a shoot-out.

Better fortune came his way in the Nations League finals of 2021. In the semi-final, he provided an assist for Karim Benzema and scored himself from the penalty spot after they came from behind to beat Belgium.

Then, in the final against Spain, he set up Benzema for an equalizer and scored what proved to be the winner. He was awarded the Golden Boot for that competition.

He played a significant role in qualifying France for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scoring his first international hat-trick against Kazakhstan.

In Qatar, he was involved in three of France’s goals in their first group game against Australia and then scored a brace in their second against Denmark.

Two more followed in their round of 16 wins against Poland.

Kylian Mbappe

In the final itself, Mbappé became only the second man in history, after Geoff Hurst in 1966, to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, as his side fought back from 2 – 0 down and then 3 – 2.

Ultimately it proved in vain, as his team lost on penalties. He still won the Golden Boot and Silver Ball for his efforts in the Middle East.

In March 2023, Mbappé was the surprise choice of many – given how he had fallen out with the French Football Federation over their choice of sponsors for the Qatar World Cup – to be the new French captain, replacing Hugo Lloris, who had retired from international football.

(Antoine Griezmann threatened to quit the French team because he thought he should have gotten the job, eventually settling for the vice-captain role)).

Style of Play & Career Trajectory

Mbappé is a versatile forward, and although he regards himself as a winger, he can play through the middle and on either flank, although he usually starts on the left side of a three.

A highly skillful player, he is renowned for his dribbling ability, as well as his pace and power.

Although he had a lean frame as a teenager, he has since spent hours in the gym developing his upper body strength, and this, combined with his natural athleticism, makes him hard to knock off the ball.

He can finish with either foot and is generally composed in front of the goal.

The striker is particularly dangerous on the counter-attack because of his ability to time his runs and find space behind defenders.

Many have compared him to a previous great of French football in terms of Thierry Henry.

Regarding where his career might take him, it is challenging to see him staying with PSG for the rest of his career.

He came close to signing for Real Madrid in 2022 until, almost at the last minute, the French club persuaded him to stay, rewarding him with a lucrative new deal that reportedly gave him an unprecedented say in how the Ligue 1 operated.

Kylian Mbappe

However, although his new contract runs until 2025, less than six months into it, reports surfaced that the French international wanted to leave. He was reportedly unhappy that the club had reneged on a deal to sign a center forward so he could play in his preferred wide position and also did not like some of the other club’s summer signings.

He has since denied these stories, but links to Real Madrid have not gone away.

PSG’s continued failures in the Champions League have yet to help persuade him that his future lies in Paris. They have been knocked out in the round of 16 again this season, and success in the one competition the club’s owners value above all else continues to evade them.

Mbappé is now 24 and, although still relatively young, will be aware of the passing of time. He also knows that playing in a Champions League-winning team will boost his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.

Internationally, he now has a new challenge with France as their captain. He has already indicated that he regards one of the critical tasks as forming a bridge between the team that remains from the last two World Cup campaigns and the up-and-coming generation.

Life outside football

Mbappé is known for his philanthropic endeavors and his determination to take a moral stance on team issues he feels strongly about. He refuses to endorse any brand linked with alcohol, gambling, and fast food, which, in the latter’s case, saw him refuse to collaborate with one of France’s main sponsors for the Qatar World Cup, Coca-Cola.

During the tournament, he was careful to be photographed so that Budweiser’s logos got obscured to avoid any suggestions that he was promoting alcohol.

However, he is still a shrewd businessman who has negotiated lucrative tie-ins with Nike, Electronic Arts, Hublot, and Dior.

Kylian Mbappe

He has also set up a US-based production company called Zebra Valley to produce content about people and ideas that change the world. He reportedly leverages his close relationship with NBA star LeBron James to help this flourish.

For much of his career, he was always represented by his parents. Although he has now signed with the WME agency, they still play an active role in his career, particularly his mother, who is never shy about promoting his career and accomplishments.

Mbappé himself is fully aware of what he is worth, and when he threatened to leave PSG and sign for Real Madrid instead, the French club found he is not to be underestimated. They persuaded him to re-sign, but not before agreeing to terms that made him one of the world’s wealthiest footballers and gave him almost unprecedented power at the club.

It took the intervention of French President Emmanuel Macron to persuade him to remain with PSG.

His romantic relationships provide a constant diet of rumors for the French tabloid press.

It has recently been reported that his current girlfriend is Belgian model Rose Bertram, who has appeared in commercials for H&M, Primark, and Agent Provocateur.

However, he also got photographed last summer carrying in his arms Ines Rau, the first transgender person to feature on the front cover of Playboy magazine.

Interesting Facts

  • Mbappé loves sneakers and, as a young boy, would pester his mother to buy him the latest model. If she refused, he would cry and sulk, a tactic that sometimes worked and sometimes did not;
  • In November 2021, together with Chinese diver Zhang Jiaqi. Mbappé became a godparent to a pair of baby pandas named Huanlili and Yuandudu, born at a French zoo, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the species;
  • He was such a fan of Ronaldo when he was growing up that pictures exist of him in his bedroom with the walls adorned with photos of the Portuguese forward;
  • Despite claims that he is even faster than Usain Boult was in his prime, these have been disproved. He is quick, but not that fast!
  • He was one of the people that donated money to the crowdfunding campaign set up to finance the private search for the missing Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and his pilot on that fateful flight Dave Ibbotson;
  • His favorite food is carbonara;
  • He is a massive fan of the video game FIFA, and when he got selected to feature on the cover of FIFA 2021, he said it was a “dream come true.” He became the youngest player to feature on the cover of the game;
  • When he scored in the World Cup final in 2018, he became only the second teenager to have managed the feat. The first was Pelé in 1958;
  • Mbappé donated all his earnings from the 2018 World Cup to a children’s charity, arguing that footballers earn an obscene amount of money anyway, and their need was far greater than his. He has subsequently set up a charity supporting children across the Paris area.

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