Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022
Mbappe following in Pele's footsteps

Back in Russia 2018, Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele to score in the World Cup final. He has already matched him for another landmark at Qatar 2022. 

  • France forward has been in scintillating form with three goals already in Qatar
  • He is now France's leading FIFA World Cup™ goalscorer with seven
  • He has matched Pele for most World Cup goals by a player aged under 24

Kylian Mbappe has already broken new ground at this World Cup. With three goals from his first two games, the France forward has overtaken Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane as his country’s leading marksman on the world stage. Moreover, factoring in his four goals from Russia 2018, he now as seven in all – a tally that leaves him rubbing shoulders with the legendary Pele.

On Saturday, with his double against Denmark, Mbappe became the only player aged under 24 to have reached seven World Cup goals aside from the great Brazilian. Pele reached that landmark when he was 21; Mbappe is 23 and turns 24 two days after the World Cup final. 

For Mbappe, the story began at Russia 2018. Then 19 years of age, he was one of France’s key players as they claimed their second world crown. In the last-16 encounter against Argentina he scored twice, making him the first player under 20 to score twice in a World Cup game since … Pele.

Indeed, the pair are the only players of this age to have scored two goals in a World Cup knockout match. In Pele’s case he did it in the 1958 final against Sweden. Before that, in the semi-final, he had scored a hat-trick against France.

Four years ago, Mbappe saved something for the final too, with the Paris Saint-Germain striker finding the net in France’s 4-2 win over Croatia. In the process he became the first player under 20 since Pele to have struck in a World Cup final. 

"He won the World Cup when he was 19 years old; when I did it, I was only 17,” said Pele in 2018. “I think he can become the new Pele.” Mbappe duly won the Best Young Player award at the tournament in Russia.

The France number 10 has resumed his love affair with the tournament in Qatar. He started with a goal, a win and a Player of the Match performance against Australia. Mbappe also provided an assist in that 4-1 success. In the next match he was again the outstanding player, scoring the winner in the 2-1 victory over Denmark that ensured the champions made it to the round of 16 with a match to spare.

What can he achieve next? “If Mbappe keeps equaling my records like this, I’ll have to dust off my boots,” joked Pele after the 2018 World Cup. The fact Mbappe is a generational talent is not in question; all we can do is sit back and enjoy it.

Source: FIFA.COM