Kylian Mbappe of France: Prodigy who won the World Cup Golden Boot | Sunday Observer

Kylian Mbappe of France: Prodigy who won the World Cup Golden Boot

8 January, 2023

Kylian Mbappe is a professional footballer who plays as a forward for the France team and Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. He is considered one of the best players in the world and is renowned for his dribbling abilities, exceptional speed, and finishing. He has scored thirty-six goals for France in sixty-six international appearances and 221 goals in 309 games in club football.

At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Mbappe won the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot and FIFA World Cup Silver Ball. He set the record for most goals scored in World Cup finals with eight goals in six starts and one substitute appearance. He also became the first player in more than 50 years to score three goals in a World Cup final.

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Mbappe became the youngest French player to score at a World Cup, and only the second teenager, after Pele, to score in a World Cup Final. He finished as the joint second-highest goal scorer as France won the World Cup and Mbappe carried away the “FIFA World Cup Best Young Player” for his performances.

In 2017, aged 18, Mbappe made his senior debut for France. In the same year, he also signed for PSG and there he has won four Ligue 1 titles and three Coupes de France and is the club’s second-highest all-time top goal scorer. He helped PSG reach a domestic quadruple in the 2019/20 season and led the club to its first ever Champions League Final.

Player Profile

Mbappe’s talent and precocious performances for France at the 2018 World Cup also led him to be compared to Pele in the media. A versatile forward, Mbappe often plays as a winger, and can play on either flank, due to his ability with both feet. He can cut into the centre onto his stronger right foot from the left wing, and is also capable of creating chances and providing assists for teammates from the right due to his vision.

He is also able to play in the centre as a main striker, due to his composure, clinical finishing, and eye for goal. A highly skilful player, Mbappe is also known for his excellent dribbling ability, as well as his explosive acceleration, agility, quick feet, and creativity when in possession of the ball, as proven by his use of elaborate feints, such as step overs, or sudden changes of pace or direction to beat opponents in one-on-one situations.

At 17, he had a lean frame but was gifted with physical strength and athleticism. By 22, he had physically developed into an elite goal scorer. Mbappe is also highly regarded for his outstanding pace and close ball control when dribbling at speed, as well as his excellent movement, tactical intelligence, and ability to beat the defensive line by making attacking runs into space both on and off the ball.

His ability to time his runs enables him to stretch opposing defences, and make him a dangerous offensive threat on counter-attacks. Mbappe was named the fastest player in the world in a ranking by French newspaper Le Figaro. In 2018, Mbappe was considered the world’s most expensive player from a transfer value perspective by the International Centre for Sports Studies.

Birth and Growth

Kylian Mbappe Lottin was born on December 20, 1998 in Paris and was raised in Bondy. His father, Wilfried is originally from Cameroon, and a football coach. His mother, Fayza Lamari, is of Algerian origin and is a former handball player.

Mbappe is a practicing Christian. As a child, he went to a private Catholic school in Bondy, where he was considered academically gifted. He began his career at AS Bondy, coached by his father, Wilfried. Eventually, he moved to the Clairefontaine Academy, putting on a host of impressive performances leading to numerous French clubs.

At 11, Real Madrid invited Mbappe to train with their under-twelves. At 14, he travelled to London after an invite from Chelsea. In October 2015, Mbappe joined Monaco’s B-team but his level of skill and maturity prompted his promotion to the main squad after just three weeks.

Club Career

He made his first team debut on December 2, 2015, becoming Monaco’s youngest-ever player aged 16 years and 347 days. On February 20, 2016, Mbappe scored his first goal for the club’s first team at 17 years and 62 days, becoming the youngest goal scorer in Monaco’s history.

On March 6, 2016, Mbappe signed his first professional contract, a three-year deal, tying him to Monaco until June 2019. He scored the first hat-trick of his career on December 14, 2016. On February 11, 2017, Mbappe scored the first Ligue 1 hat-trick of his career in the 5–0 home win over Metz at 18 years and 2 months to become the youngest player to score a Ligue 1 hat-trick.

On February 21, 2017 Mbappe scored his first ever Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League goal and he became the second youngest French scorer in UEFA Champions League history. Mbappe ended the 2016/17 season with twenty-six goals from forty-four matches in all competitions as Monaco won the Ligue 1 title.

On August 31, 2017, PSG announced the signing of Mbappe from Monaco on loan. The fee needed for a subsequent full transfer was set at €180 million, making him the most expensive teenager ever at 18, the most expensive transfer ever within a domestic league, and potentially the second most expensive player ever.

Mbappe scored on his debut on September 8 and starred in PSG’s 3–0 victory over Bayern Munich. On December 6, Mbappe scored his 10th Champions League goal in a 3–1 defeat to Bayern Munich to become the youngest player to reach the mark at the age of 18 years and 11 months.

On October 8, 2018 Mbappe scored four goals in just 13 minutes in a 5–0 home victory over Lyon and became the youngest player at 19 years and 9 months to score four goals in one game in Ligue 1 over the last forty-five seasons. On December 3, Mbappe was the inaugural winner of the Kopa Trophy, which is awarded by France Football to the “Best Player in the World” under the age of twenty-one. He was bestowed the Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2018.

On March 2, 2019 he scored twice in a 2–1 away win over Caen to reach his 50th goal with the club. PSG finished the season as Ligue 1 champions, with Mbappe winning the “Player of the Year” award, while finishing the season as the top goal scorer with thirty-three goals. On June 11, 2019, Mbappe scored his 100th goal in a 4–0 away win over Andorra in Euro 2020 qualifying.

On May 1, 2020, PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions after the season had been called off amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mbappe finished the 2019/20 season as joint-top scorer in Ligue 1 with eighteen goals. In a Ligue 1 match against Montpellier on December 5, Mbappe scored his 100th goal for PSG.

On August 3, Mbappe scored in a 2–1 win over Rennes to capture his first title of the 2019–20 season, the 2019 Trophee des Champions. At 20 years and 306 days, he became the youngest player ever to score at least fifteen goals in the competition.

On February 16, 2021, Mbappe became only the third player to score a Champions League hat-trick against Barcelona, doing so in PSG’s 4–1 ‘Round of sixteen’ victory and same saw him becoming PSG’s third-highest scorer. On February 27, Mbappe scored twice in a 4–0 away win against Dijon, becoming the first player to score five braces in the Ligue 1 season.

Mbappe’s penalty was his 25th Champions League goal, surpassing opponent Lionel Messi as the youngest player to reach this milestone, aged 22 years and 80 days. Adding to his hat-trick from the first leg, Mbappe became the first player to score four goals against Barcelona in a single Champions League season.

Mbappe ended the 2020 season with the Ligue 1 “Player of The Year Award” and featured in the Ligue 1 “Team of the Season.” On December 12, 2021, Mbappe scored twice against Monaco in Ligue 1 to reach a century of league goals for PSG. At 22 years and 357 days old, he became the youngest player to score one hundred goals for a single team in the French top-flight since Opta began recording data in the 1950/51 season.

On May 21, 2022, Mbappe extended his contract with PSG until 2025. According to Sky Sports, the financial details of Mbappe’s contract include a monthly wage of £4 million, making him the highest-paid player in the world.

Mbappe and PSG also secured a signing-on figure in the region of £100 million. In the hours following Mbappe’s contract extension, he scored a hat-trick in a 5–0 win over Metz, to finish the season with twenty-eight goals as top scorer for the fourth consecutive season. Mbappe also provided seventeen assists in the season, becoming the first player to finish as both top scorer and top assist provider in Ligue 1 history.

On August 13, 2022, Mbappe scored his first goal of the season for PSG in a 5–2 home victory over Montpellier. On August 21, he scored his first hat-trick of the season in a 7–1 away win over Lille. His first goal was clocked at eight seconds, making it the second-fastest goal ever scored in Ligue 1 history, tenths of seconds later than Michel Rio’s goal in 1992. On October 11, he scored a penalty in a 1–1 Champions League draw at home to Benfica, becoming the leading goal scorer for PSG in European competitions with thirty-one goals.

International Career

Mbappe capped a fine debut senior season at Monaco by scoring five times for France as they won the 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, with the striker single-handed securing their spot in the final with a sparkling performance in their 3–1 victory against Portugal.

Mbappe was called up to the senior France squad for the first time to face Luxembourg and Spain in March 2017. He made his debut on March 25, against the former side, coming in the 78th minute of a 3–1 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification win.

In doing so, he became the second youngest player ever to feature for France at 18 years, three months, and five days. On August 31, 2017, Mbappe scored his first senior international goal in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against the Netherlands. He also scored twice against Russia in March 2018.

On September 5, 2020, Mbappe scored the only goal for France in a 1–0 UEFA Nations League win against Sweden. He tested positive for COVID-19 and made his return for France in a 7–1 victory against Ukraine on October 7, 2020. One week later, he scored the match-winning goal in a 2–1 win against Croatia. France topped their Nations League Group and qualified for the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.

On May 18, 2021, Mbappe was called up for the France squad for UEFA Europa 2020, his second major international tournament. On June 28, he provided the assist for the first goal in the match against Switzerland in the ‘Round of Sixteen.’ After a 3–3 draw, the game went to a penalty shoot-out and France were eliminated.

In the Nations League semi-final on October 7, 2021, Mbappe scored a goal from the penalty spot to help France to defeat Belgium 3–2. This was his 50th appearance for Les Bleus at just 22 years and 9.5 months. In the final three days later, he once again scored the match-winning goal for France to clinch the title for the first time with a 2–1 victory over Spain. With two goals and two assists in the Nations League Finals, Mbappe was awarded the UEFA Nations League Finals Golden Boot in 2021.

On November 13, Mbappe scored his first goals in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with four goals in an 8–0 win over Kazakhstan. Mbappe’s super hat-trick, which included a 32-minute first half hat-trick, was his first for his country and the first competitive hat-trick scored for France since 1985. Three days later, he scored again in a 2–0 away win over Finland in France’s last World Cup qualifier.

World Cup 2018

Mbappe was called up to the France squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. On June 21, 2018, he scored his first World Cup goal in France’s 1–0 group stage win over Peru. This made him the youngest French goal scorer in World Cup history at 19. On June 30, 2018, he was named “Man of the Match” in a 4–3 win over Argentina. Mbappe was the second teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match after Pele in 1958.

On July 15, Mbappe scored with a 25-yard strike against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup Final, with France winning 4–2. He became the second teenager, after Pele, to score in a World Cup Final, and with four goals in the tournament he received the “FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award” in 2018 and was included in the “FIFA World Cup Dream Team” for 2018. Pele congratulated him on social media, and said “welcome to the club.”

World Cup 2022

France kicked off their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign in Qatar against Australia on November 22, 2022 and Mbappe engaged in three of France’s four goals in a 4–1 victory; he was in the build-up for the second goal, scored the third and assisted the fourth goal.

Four days later, Mbappe scored both of France’s goals in a 2–1 victory over Denmark, securing qualification to the knockout stages. In the knockout ‘Round of Sixteen’ against Poland, he scored two goals in a 3–1 win for France.

After appearances in France’s wins against England and Morocco in the quarter and semi-finals, Mbappe became only the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, scoring three goals against Argentina. The match went to a penalty shoot-out and Mbappe scored his penalty, but France lost.

Mbappe secured the tournament’s Golden Boot with eight goals, and became the sixth all-time top goal scorer in World Cup history with twelve goals, tied with Pele. Having scored a goal in the 2018 final, he also became the outright top goal scorer in World Cup finals, with four goals, and his hat-trick was the first in a final since Geoff Hurst for England in 1966.

(The author is an Associate Professor, International Scholar, winner of Presidential Awards and multiple National Accolades for Academic pursuits. He possesses a PhD, MPhil, and double MSc. His email is [email protected])