Kylian Mbappe’s sensational teenage exploits have fellow World Cup winner and all-time great Pele worried about his array of footballing records.
Mbappe netted in France’s World Cup final win over Croatia on Sunday, becoming the second youngest player, after Pele, to net in the showpiece match.
The Paris Saint-Germain star is also the fourth youngest player to win the sport’s most coveted prize, while only Pele has scored more goals at the same finals competition before his 20th birthday.
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The Brazil icon, a champion in 1958, 1962 and 1970, seems to be worried by Mbappe’s progress, as he cheekily congratulated the Frenchman on Sunday.
If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this I may have to dust my boots off again… // Se o @KMbappe continuar a igualar os meus records assim, eu vou ter que tirar a poeira das minhas chuteiras novamente…#WorldCupFinal https://t.co/GYWfMxPn7p
— Pelé (@Pele) July 15, 2018
Despite the stark similarities to Pele’s accomplishments, Mbappe said he is out to “forge his own path” regardless of the comparisons.
Mbappe does not want to take on the Brazil great and instead intends to focus on his own game after winning the tournament’s Best Young Player award.
“Pele has marked history and I’m just here trying to forge my own path,” the 19-year-old told reporters.
“I’m just trying to play the way I always did.
“Scoring and beating records is always good, but I’ve always worked towards this goal. I must continue, I have the ambition to go further, wherever my potential takes me.
The king will always remain king 👑
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) July 16, 2018
“Winning a World Cup this young opens you lots of doors.”
And Mbappe never doubted France’s chances in Russia, claiming their self-belief was key to victory.
“You always have to believe. In this type of competition, it’s not the most handsome that wins, but the one who believe the most,” he said.
“And our belief was as solid as iron. We had to show it even if it seemed arrogant at first.
Conversation predictably turned to a possible Ballon d’Or win, but Mbappe remained evasive.
“It’s for certain that the World Cup works in my favour, but I’m not thinking about that right now,” he said.