Kylian Mbappe has recollected the conversations he enjoyed with his disbelieving childhood friends after returning from a trial with Chelsea.
The 21-year-old French marksman is still enjoying an incredible rise following his breakthrough at boyhood club AS Monaco.
The rise and rise of Kylian Mbappe: Five key things to know…
- Mbappe broke through at AS Monaco where he scored 27 goals in 60 appearances.
- The French striker was key in their surprise run to the 2016/17 Ligue 1 title and Champions League semi-finals.
- Mbappe is the most prolific teenage goalscorer in Champions League history (13 goals).
- He’d subsequently move to hometown club PSG for £166m.
- Mbappe became the second teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final.
During his time at Les Monégasques, he’d register 27 goals across 60 matches in all competitions during which time Mbappe played an integral role in their run to an unexpected Champions League semi-final berth.
Such mature performances from the youngster alerted many clubs across Europe, notably Real Madrid, but Paris Saint-Germain made headlines in 2017 by signing Mbappe on a season-long loan before parting with £166m to make him the world’s most expensive teenage footballer.
Things could have gone differently with strong interest from England. Before settling at hometown team PSG, the Parisian turned down a move to Arsenal where he could have linked up with fellow countryman Arsene Wenger.
However, there was a chance Mbappe would have started his professional career in London rather than Monaco, at the age of 11 — while representing youth club AS Bondy — he underwent a trial at Chelsea, but his teammates had to be convinced of that special moment.
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“Maybe if you’re not from where I’m from, you cannot understand this. But, for example, when I was 11 years old, I got to go to London for a few days to train with Chelsea’s youth team. I was so excited and shocked that I didn’t even want to tell my friends from the neighbourhood where I was going,” he wrote in The Players’ Tribune.
“When I came back home, my friends saw me and said, “Kylian, where were you last week? I said, ‘I was in London with Chelsea.’ They said, ‘Pfff, no it’s impossible.’ I said, ‘No, I swear, I even met Drogba.’ They said, ‘Pfff, you’re lying. Drogba doesn’t meet kids from Bondy. It is not possible!’
“I didn’t have a phone back then, so I asked my dad to give me his, and I showed them the pictures we took. That’s when they finally believed me. But the important thing was that they were not jealous. Not at all. They were just amazed. I will never forget what they said to me. I can still picture it, because we were actually in the changing room at AS Bondy, getting dressed for a match.
“They said, ‘Kylian, can you take us there with you?’ It was like I had gone to another planet. I said, ‘But the camp is over now. I’m sorry.’ They were looking down at the phone, laughing and shaking their heads. They said, ‘Wow. It’s like we are living this moment with you, Kylian.’ That’s how much it means to us. Going to these places, it’s like visiting another planet.”