On July 15th, as the world tuned into the final match, between France and Croatia, the 2018 World Cup highlighted one of the game’s newest shining stars—Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe is the first teenager to score in a men’s FIFA World Cup Final since Pele.
Born in Paris, France, Mbappe proved that he is definitely a name that will one day join the ranks of soccer legends as he helped lead his country to their World Cup title.
Before Sunday’s match, CNN Sport spoke to Vadim Vasilyev, AS Monaco’s vice-president, who had a major role in signing Mbappe to his first professional contract. Check out a few things that Vasilyev had to say about this amazing athlete. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this young man on the soccer field. To follow his journey on Instagram, click here.
When was the first time you saw him play football and what were your first thoughts and feelings?
“When I first heard about him my colleagues said: ‘Look, we have a very talented boy, we have to sign him.’ So I said: ‘What’s the problem? Let’s sign him.’ They said it wasn’t easy and it turned out there were some complications.
“He was not really very happy and actually he wanted to go. I started seeing his parents and watching him in training and I sent him to the first team to train with our coach (Leonardo) Jardim. They said: ‘Wow, how come this boy is in our academy and I didn’t know about it.’ We built a relationship of trust and then he signed his pro contract.”
Many people expected him to be a star, but did you think it would all happen before he was even 20 years old?
“Two years ago, or perhaps even more, I knew that he was a phenomenon. It’s not just ‘very good,’ it’s not ‘top,’ it’s a phenomenal player.
“He has all the ingredients, then of course it all went very quickly; becoming French champion with us, going to the semifinal of the Champions League and now the World Cup. It all went quick for sure but if you know the quality he has and the kind of person he is, then I’m not surprised really.
“Of course it happened more quickly than anybody could have envisaged, even himself, that’s for sure. But he’s doing it at this level and I’m not surprised at all. He did it at academy level, Ligue 1 level, then two years (seasons) ago he did it in the Champions League, the famous game against Manchester City where he exploded.
“He played against Manchester City on an amazing level in front of the whole football world. It just confirmed what we knew all along, it’s an amazing talent and this boy will become one of the best — if he isn’t already — one of the best in world.”
What do you think it is about him, apart from his incredible talent, that has allowed him to get to the top so quickly?
“He breathes football, sleeps football, actually nothing else is on his mind. He didn’t even go out when we won the title two years ago.
“All the boys went celebrating and he was so tired he just went home. He is really dedicated and he has a very competitive spirit, he wants to break all the records.
“He reminds me a bit of Cristiano Ronaldo, because I also know him well, because he knows all the records and he always wants to be the youngest player on the pitch to score, the youngest player to win this cup, to win the title.
“So he’s a good competitor, he’s also stubborn and if he doesn’t play he feels bad. He’s, like, sick if he doesn’t play. He also has a great family, I know the mother and father well, I saw the father yesterday.
“They’re an amazing family supporting him. They’re next to him, are very intelligent people and are a really good healthy family, so all the ingredients (are there).
“When you talk to him you don’t talk to a 19-year-old boy, you talk to a 30 or 25 year-old at least. There’s the maturity. Trying to find a weak point, I can’t. Then of course you can never say how long will it take him to win the Ballon d’Or, but he will be there soon for sure.”
To read the remainder of Vasilyev’s interview, click here.