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Kylian Mbappe – “Donatello”

Kylian Mbappe - "Donatello"
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Meet Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, the youngster tipped to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Name:Kylian Mbappe Lottin
Nickname: Donatello, 37, Kiki
Born:December 20, 1998
Birthplace:Paris, France
Height:1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Clubs:AS Monaco, PSG
National team:France
Position:Forward
Titles:7 (6x Club, 1x International)

From non-league football to a World Cup winner, PSG star Kylian Mbappe has done it all despite his somewhat tender age. He is unique, talented and has unlimited potential brimming inside of him. Nothing is beyond his reach in football.

The highly skilled forward has it all in an explosive pace, quick feet, dribbling skills and insane finishing ability. It makes him a nightmare for any defence, no matter who they may contain.

Bayern Munich and Belgium icon Daniel Van Buyten once described him as a hybrid of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Ronaldo Nazario.

Despite all that he’s already achieved in football, however, Mbappe is only just getting started. How far he will go is still uncertain for most of us, but his journey will definitely be one to watch. For all we know, this guy could become one of the greatest our sport has ever seen.

Turning down the big guns

As the son of Cameroonian football coach Wilfried Mbappe and former Algerian handball player Fayza Lamari, a sports career came naturally for Kylian. It was a foregone conclusion from the moment he first touched a ball. From that point onwards, nothing else mattered.

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His exceptional talents shined from an early age at his father’s amateur club Bondy. Before long some of Europe’s biggest sides in Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid courted him.

Chelsea even brought a young Kylian Mbappe over to London in 2012 for a trial. It made a lasting impression on both player and club, who requested another tryout. His mother, though, wasn’t impressed.

“I remember what the mother said to this day. She spoke in French to [Jim] Fraser, and I was translating,” said ex-Chelsea scout Serge Daniel Boga.

“She said to me, ‘Listen, my boy won’t be coming back. If they want him they have to take him now or in five year’s time they will come back to buy him for €50 million!’”

Regardless, it was a life-changing experience for Mbappe and spurned him on. He got to see life at a big club while meeting then-manager Carlo Ancelotti and star striker Didier Drogba.

A dream week-long trial followed in December 2012 at Real Madrid, where Mbappe met his idols, Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo. His bedroom walls were still adorned with posters of the latter. So seeing them in real-life for the first time was a surreal experience.

But Mbappe continued his football education at the famed Clairefontaine academy in France, instead of Real Madrid’s La Fabrica base. A move to AS Monaco followed in July 2013.

“We had plenty of meetings with Monsieur Zidane,” explained his father, Wilfrid.

“But from the moment he became assistant coach to the first team [ahead of the 2013/14 season] I believed that he’d not have the right amount of time for Kylian.

“If Zidane had stayed in charge of recruiting and looking after young talent like Kylian, we’d probably just have joined Madrid instead of Monaco.”

Rise to stardom

After splitting his time between playing non-league football for Bondy during weekends and training at Clairefontaine on weekdays, Kylian Mbappe joined Monaco’s youth academy full-time.

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The Frenchman only took two years to make his first-team debut during a 1-1 draw against Caen in December 2015. While it was only a two-minute cameo, he became Monaco’s youngest debutant aged 16 years and 347 days. The previous record-holder was Thierry Henry from 1994.

Mbappe broke another Henry record in February 2016 by becoming the club’s youngest goalscorer against Troyes. Therefore, Monaco awarded him a senior contract one month later.

“My word, he is good. Ooh, la la. I really like watching him play,” said Henry.

“On the pitch, he is a phenomenon. He does not play like a young player nor someone who has been around for a while.”

But it was the following campaign in 2016/17 where Mbappe became Box Office in the football world. Out of almost nowhere, everyone was talking about the youngster. His performances not only won Monaco a Ligue 1 title but took them to the Champions League semi-finals.

Kylian played a central role in eliminating Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. In the process, he became the first teenager to score in four consecutive knockout games. But Juventus proved one step too far in the last-four itself.

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Still, it took nothing away from his breakthrough campaign for the forward. Everyone wanted him in the summer of 2017, with Real Madrid leading the pack.

Just like almost five years earlier at La Fabrica, however, Mbappe didn’t head to Spain. Instead, he joined hometown club PSG on a €35m season-long loan deal. The Parisians made it permanent a year later for a whopping €145.00m. It made him the world’s second-most expensive player behind teammate Neymar.

Emulating Pele

Kylian Mbappe quickly adapted in his surroundings to form a deadly partnership with Neymar and Edinson Cavani. Together, the trio fired PSG to a domestic treble in 2017/18.

Afterwards, Mbappe went to Russia to represent France in the 2018 World Cup and soon made his mark. He became the nation’s youngest scorer in the competition, but saved his best for the knockouts. Nobody will forget how he outshined Lionel Messi in that emphatic 4-3 win over Argentina.

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It was one of those career-defining moments that truly established the 19-year-old as world-class.

Aside from winning the penalty for France’s opener, Mbappe’s searing pace shattered a helpless Argentina defence in the second half. His two goals inside four minutes not only sealed the tie but made him the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score a brace in a World Cup match.

Mbappe again followed in the Brazilian legend’s footsteps by becoming the second teenager to score in a World Cup final. He struck from 25 yards out to score France’s fourth goal in a 4-2 win over Croatia.

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final, PSG
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Despite all the plaudits and Ballon d’Or hopes for his future, however, Mbappe assured reporters it didn’t matter.

“Couldn’t care less about that,” said the PSG man. “I want the World Cup. I want to sleep with it.”

Beating Ronaldo & Messi to 100 Club goals

Since his ascension to the pinnacle of football, Kylian Mbappe has continued to smash countless records. His most notable one since 2018 is, perhaps, becoming the youngest player to score 100 Club goals.

The PSG forward achieved it just before his 21st birthday against Galatasaray in the Champions League on December 2019. Ronaldo and Messi, in comparison, took until 22 years old to hit the century mark in their respective careers.

Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain, PSG
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Helping Mbappe reach this feat is his development at PSG over the years. After spending the bulk of his debut campaign down the right flank, he has adopted a more central role recently. His record speaks for itself, with a career-best 39 goals and 17 assists in 43 appearances last season.

“I would not say that what I do is extraordinary,” said the player. “I just say that I can do what I know best.

Nonetheless, Kylian’s accomplishments in the football world will always be remembered. To think he’s only 21, yet this young man has already rewritten the record books. His career could even stretch for nearly two more decades under the right conditions.

While this guarantees nothing for the future, one thing that’s clear is that we may see no one like Mbappe again. All we can do is enjoy and look forward to seeing what’s next for his exhilarating career.

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