Kylian Mbappe From Bondy Babysit to World Cup Star

THISDAY - - GLOBAL SOCCER - 'Kylian was born into foot­ball'

Alot has hap­pened in a short space of time for Kylian Mbappe. Aged 19, he is light­ing up the World Cup for France, scor­ing twice in their 4-3 vic­tory over Ar­gentina in the last 16. It is the lat­est step in a re­mark­able rise for a player who was cel­e­brat­ing pass­ing his French high school ex­ams just three sum­mers ago.

In less than two years he has be­come a double Ligue 1 ti­tle win­ner and a reg­u­lar for France and Paris St-Ger­main for whom he is ex­pected to sign per­ma­nently this sum­mer for 180m Euros.

Mbappe spent his for­ma­tive years de­vel­op­ing his skills at AS Bondy in the north-eastern sub­urbs of Paris. The club are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a surge in pop­u­lar­ity and are in­un­dated with new mem­bers want­ing to fol­low in the foot­steps of Mbappe.

AS Bondy's se­nior team play in the 10th tier of French foot­ball, in the "Ex­cel­lence" di­vi­sion of the League of Paris ile-de-France but they have a very suc­cess­ful youth sys­tem. Play­ers who have passed through their age groups in­clude Sevilla's Se­bastien Corchia and DR Congo in­ter­na­tional Fabrice N'Sakala.

Un­til only three months ago, Mbappe's fa­ther, Wil­fried, was one of the sport­ing direc­tors at the club look­ing af­ter the age groups from un­der-10s up to un­der-17s but he has had var­i­ous roles over 25 years at AS Bondy.

"You could say that Kylian was born here at this club. He was here as a baby when his fa­ther was a player and a coach. He was al­ways here and learn­ing about foot­ball, even as a tod­dler.

"When we played games, just be­fore kick-off you'd see a two-year-old walk in with a ball and he'd sit with us to lis­ten to the team talks. I think he's the player here who must have heard the record num­ber of pre-match team talks," said At­mane Airouche, Pres­i­dent of AS Bondy.

"He was born into foot­ball and sport. His fa­ther was a youth leader, work­ing with chil­dren in the lo­cal area and then he was brought in to AS Bondy. He only left us three months ago but his im­print will be here for­ever. He gave 25 years of his life to us. And his mother is also a big in­flu­ence. She was a very good pro­fes­sional hand­ball player," he added.

Antonio Ric­cardi, U-13s coach at AS Bondy, said that "His fa­ther is like my se­cond fa­ther so I knew Kylian as a baby but the first time I coached him was when he was six years old. Just a few months af­ter he had started play­ing here for the debu­tants age group you could tell he was dif­fer­ent.

"Kylian could do much more than the other chil­dren. His drib­bling was al­ready fan­tas­tic and he was much faster than the oth­ers." 'He had posters of Ron­aldo on his wall' "Kylian would al­ways think about foot­ball, al­ways talk about foot­ball, al­ways watch foot­ball and if he wasn't do­ing that he'd be play­ing foot­ball games on the PlayS­ta­tion.

"He'd even turn his liv­ing room into a foot­ball pitch. When he was young I used to take Kylian home from train­ing and I'd babysit un­til his mother got home from work.

"He al­ways wanted to play in the liv­ing room! The sofa or the ta­ble would be the goal. He'd say: 'Don't tell my mother, don't tell my fa­ther be­cause they don't want me to play here. Please don't tell.' So we used to play and I kept that se­cret for him. Luck­ily he never broke any­thing," Ric­card said.

"He was a big fan of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo. They were the posters on his bed­room wall, but he was a fan of lots of great play­ers. He didn't fol­low a par­tic­u­lar team but he was a fan of many top foot­ballers. Ron­aldo was def­i­nitely his child­hood hero though," he added.

"He only thinks about foot­ball and that's what makes the dif­fer­ence com­pared to oth­ers.

"Other play­ers think that once they've signed for a club or gone to Claire­fontaine they've achieved some­thing, that they've ar­rived. But no, the hard work is only just start­ing and Kylian knew that. He'd play any­where.

"If he came here now and fan­cied a game he'd just play even now he's a pro. All he thinks about is the game," Airouche noted.

'The oth­ers went out par­ty­ing, he went to bed'

Mbappe agreed to sign for Monaco at the age of 14. He is said to have turned down ev­ery other Ligue 1 side, plus Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manch­ester City, Liver­pool and Bay­ern Mu­nich.

He made his first-team de­but for Monaco on De­cem­ber 2, 2015 as a late sub­sti­tute - in the process break­ing for­mer France striker Thierry Henry's record to be­come Monaco's youngest player at 16 years, 347 days.

Mbappe was one of the stars of the Un­der-19 Euros in Ger­many in 2016, scor­ing five goals, in­clud­ing two in the semi-final. The top scorer at that tour­na­ment was Jean-Kevin Au­gustin, who has just left PSG to join Ger­man side RB Leipzig.

"Kylian was al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic. You have to work hard when you have a tal­ent like he does be­cause if you don't, oth­ers that are less tal­ented but are work­ing hard can catch up.

"In Bondy there were no real mo­ments of dif­fi­culty for him be­cause he was far bet­ter than the oth­ers. But I know that in Monaco the first year was dif­fi­cult for him be­cause he had a coach that didn't like him very much. To­day that coach is no longer at Monaco and Kylian is in PSG and the na­tional team. So it was the coach who was in the wrong," Ric­cardi said.

"We went to watch him at the un­der-19 final, which France won. We met him out­side the sta­dium and we were shocked that he didn't want to go par­ty­ing with his team-mates. In­stead he wanted to go straight home.

"To him, he had achieved his goal to be Euro­pean cham­pion and was al­ready think­ing about his next goal: go­ing back to Monaco, get­ting into their team, win­ning more ti­tles.

"I re­mem­ber when Monaco be­came champions he was the only player on the pitch who didn't have a mo­bile phone with him dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tions. All the oth­ers went out par­ty­ing, he was the only one who went home to sleep. That's what is so great about him.

"Other pro­fes­sion­als should learn from Kylian. You've never reached your goal. Work harder and harder ev­ery day," Airouche said. 'He has the ma­tu­rity of a 40-year-old' Mbappe of­ten posts on so­cial me­dia about his fam­ily and is very close to his fa­ther, Wil­fried, and mother, Fayza. He passed his high school ex­ams in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy man­age­ment, com­bin­ing his stud­ies with his foot­ball de­vel­op­ment.

"He's a lit­tle boy from Bondy who loves foot­ball and re­spects peo­ple. That's what we give to our chil­dren here. He loves his town, he loves this club, he still talks about it to this day. He's al­ways be­hind us and when he gets the chance to see the lit­tle ones here he does it. That's why lots of peo­ple like him be­cause he is sim­ply him­self.

"He is a young man who seems to have the ma­tu­rity of a 40-year-old when he speaks. That's his per­son­al­ity. Gen­er­ous, re­spect­ful and when he comes here he's al­ways just a boy from Bondy and a boy from ASB," Airouche said.

"Kylian's per­son­al­ity - when you see him speak­ing at 18 but sound­ing like he's 30, talk­ing with phe­nom­e­nal ma­tu­rity - is be­cause of what his par­ents gave him. They're peo­ple that al­ways had their hands on their hearts, they helped a lot. Not just their chil­dren but the chil­dren here at the club, for them it was the same," he added.

"He's the same now as he was back then. If he came here now he would say hello to all the young play­ers here, he would give all the coaches a hug, he would take a ball and play with the oth­ers.

"We still call and text each other and it's the same easy-go­ing con­ver­sa­tions that we had when I was his babysitter. He will never change be­cause his ed­u­ca­tion is so good. Be­hind him he has his par­ents, who are fan­tas­tic peo­ple. He has a great fam­ily unit. He be­lieves in fam­ily and he doesn't want to let them down," Ric­cardi said. ' Tal­ent? No­body has come close' "A move he used to do as a kid that he still does now in the 'passe­ment de jambes' (the stepover). It was his trade­mark as a boy. From seven or eight years old he was do­ing that.

"He was the best player I've ever seen in 15 years coach­ing here. No­body has even come close. In Paris there are many tal­ents but I'd never seen a tal­ent like him. He was what we call a 'craque' (the best)," Ric­cardi said.

"When he was lit­tle he was al­ways the small­est but he had tech­nique and vi­sion in the game that most chil­dren just don't have. That's why when you see him now you no­tice he has amaz­ing senses. He's got eyes in the back of his head. He knows how to an­tic­i­pate where the ball will go.

"Here, he never played for his proper age group, he al­ways played with older chil­dren be­cause there was no point leav­ing him with kids his own age. He'd just get bored.

"Phys­i­cally that was tough be­cause he was small, but he had the tal­ent that made the dif­fer­ence. He was a phe­nom­e­non. Then sud­denly, he grew up. I re­mem­ber not see­ing him for a while and then when we met up again he was sud­denly as tall as me," Airouche said.

He was born into foot­ball and sport. His fa­ther was a youth leader, work­ing with chil­dren in the lo­cal area and then he was brought in to AS Bondy. He only left us three months ago but his im­print will be here for­ever. He gave 25 years of his life to us And his mother is also a big in­flu­ence. She was a very good pro­fes­sional hand­ball player

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.