- Nominee for The Best FIFA Men’s Player for second year running
- France star has grown accustomed to being the best
- His progress to the top has been rapid
Ever since Kylian Mbappe burst on to the scene, the football world – Pelé included – has been agreed on one thing: it is only a question of time before the young French star becomes the best in the business. After finishing fourth in 2018, Mbappe has once again been nominated for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award. The lightning-quick forward will find out on 23 September if his time has come, but at just 20, he has already become used to being the best.
- The young Kylian first impressed when playing for AS Bondy, his hometown club in the Parisian suburbs, for whom he signed forms in 2010/11.
“He’s always been a great player. Right from the start you sensed he was better than everyone else. He’s always played in higher age groups, but even then he was still better than the rest.” Former Bondy team-mate Joe Kobo
“Kylian doesn’t have legs; he’s got rockets. And to go with that phenomenal pace he’s exceptionally skilful. When he was young he looked like any other boy. He was funny and endearing, but he was more analytical than the rest and he was academically gifted too.” Tonio Riccardi, his first coach at Bondy
- As well as having golden legs, Mbappe quickly showed he had a brain to go with them, proving himself a talented student, not least in French, which explains why he is often held up as a role model by the national media.
“He was a gifted student and he showed that as early as Year 3. He grasped all the rules about spelling, syntax and vocabulary. He used it to drive himself harder and add even more lustre to the stars shining in his head.” Yannick Saint-Aubert, his former headmaster at the Olympe-de-Gouges School in Bondy
- Despite Mbappe’s academic abilities, it was his talent on the ball that would determine his future. In 2011, he gained a place at the French National Institute (INF) at Clairefontaine, the French Football Federation’s youth training centre, where his coaches and peers soon grew used to his level of excellence.
“He’s a striker who unsettles defences. He can move past people and scorch the ground in the last 40 metres. There’s an explosiveness and a flow to his football. He’s great to watch. He’s one of these players who stands apart from the rest because of the way he moves and his poise. His touch is different to the rest. You can sense that straightaway. He’s a fantastic passer of the ball and uses both feet to hit passes that others might not necessarily see.” INF coach Jean-Claude Lafargue
- After two years at the INF, Mbappe began attracting the interest of a host of clubs, among them Chelsea and Real Madrid, though he finally chose to join Monaco in 2013. Not surprisingly, he went on to star for both his club and France’s youth teams.
“He was the best player in the league. He was so at ease on the ball and a cut above everyone else physically, mainly because of his pace.” Gregory Contestin, a former Sete central defender who faced Mbappe at U-17 level
“He didn’t have a fantastic game but you knew there was something special about him. It was plain to see. And when he needed to find an extra gear, he did.” Brice Boufrizi, a former Beziers striker who faced Mbappe at U-17 level
“I came across him for the first time in 2014. He was in the U-16s and I’d heard people talking about him: ‘There’s this fantastic player who’s been at Clairefontaine.’ I went to see him and knew straightaway there was something different about him: his speed of movement, pace, audacity and ability to shrug off pressure. He loves football, loves the game, and lives and breathes it.” Former France U-20 coach Ludovic Batelli
A player in a rush
Mbappe’s success since turning professional is well documented, with a host of trophies and individual accolades coming his way as a France, AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain player.
There are many reasons behind his The Best FIFA Men’s Player nomination, including the fact that he was voted Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year for the third year in a row in 2019, becoming the first player to win that award and be named the French league’s Player of the Year in the same season.
Mbappe’s individual achievements to date:
- Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2019
- Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2019
- Ligue 1 Golden Boot in 2019
- FIFA Young Player Award at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™
- Kopa Trophy (best world U-21 player) in 2018
- Golden Boy (best European U-21 player) in 2017
Will his next award be The Best FIFA Men’s Player? The answer to that question will come on 23 September.