Since the outbreak of Kylian Mbappé in the eyes of the whole world, during the 2018 World Cup, the French striker had established a special relationship with Pelé, the Brazilian legend with whom he shares precocity records.
“Football today continues to tell its story, as always, in an exciting way. Messi wins his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved. My dear friend, Mbappé, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift to witness to this show for the future of our sport.” In one of his last messages published on his social networks, Pelé, who passed away this Thursday in Brazil at the age of 82, evokes Kylian Mbappé, at the end of a warm relationship that the two men have forged for more than four years. A meeting also took place in Paris in April 2019.
It all starts at the 2018 World Cup
France-Argentina, 30 June 2018. In the round of 16 of the World Cup, the Blues defeated Albiceleste (4-3) after a match in which Kylian Mbappé was exceptional, scoring two goals and provoking a penalty after a legendary run. The 19-year-old striker becomes the youngest player to score twice at a World Cup since a certain Pelé, who was 17 in the 1958 final.
“Congratulations Kylian Mbappé, two goals in such a young World Cup put you in good company,” the legendary Brazilian launched on Twitter. Good luck in your other matches. Except against Brazil!” The beginning of many exchanges between the two men for more than four years.
“The King Will Always Be King”
“Only the second player under 20 has scored a goal in the World Cup final!, Pelé noted a few days later, regarding the final against Croatia won by the Blues (4-2) during which the young Frenchman had also found the net. Welcome to the Kylian Mbappé club, it’s good to have company!”
Later, Pelé insists on his young counterpart’s performance, not hesitating to be ironic: “If Kylian keeps equaling my records like this, I might have to dust off my crampons again…”. To which Mbappé replied, full of humility: “The king will always remain the king”.
A few weeks later, the PSG forward received an autographed shirt from Pelé, introducing himself as his “friend”, which he described with a smile as a “fantastic present”. “I think you have something special, Pelé will answer him. I have only two little pieces of advice: always stay humble and keep working hard. I’m sure you will.”
A meeting in Paris in 2019
Shortly before wishing him twenty years, the Brazilian number 10 called him to win a second World Cup, to “become the new Pelé”. A feat that he will come close to accomplishing on 18 December in Qatar, beaten in the final by Argentina (3-3, 2-4 on penalties) despite a hat-trick.
A meeting between the two men, initially scheduled for November 2018 but postponed due to the Brazilian’s state of health, was arranged on April 2, 2019 in Paris by a partner (Hublot). During his visit to France, Pelé fought especially for his young successor to win a Ballon d’Or. “Given his current performance and the game he offers us, I think he deserves it, without a doubt, he told RMC Sport. I hope he gets the opportunity one day.”
“I’m a big fan of this player,” he added. and that it does not have the slightest prejudice”. The king also believed that Mbappé could surpass the mythical 1,000-goal mark in his career like him.
Shirts sent, birthday and support messages, exchanges are on the rise
After this meeting, the world champion confides his admiration for the triple winner of the World Cup (1958, 1962, 1970). “I kept touching him to see if it was real, he was smiling about it. I’ve always said that football gave me the opportunity to make dreams come true. This dream was part of it. For me he was the icon, the absolute legend and I said to myself that it was already nice to see it on tape”.
Subsequently, the exchanges continued on social media and Kylian Mbappé in turn sent an autographed shirt to his idol, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pelé’s third world title, in June 2020.
The Brazilian regularly repeats his praises, not forgetting his protégé’s birthday, and shows him his support in the most difficult moments, such as at Euro 2021, after the French striker’s failure in his shot on goal in the round of 16 against Switzerland ( 3-3, 4-5 pens). “Keep your head up, Kylian! Pelé wrote the day after the elimination of the Blues. Tomorrow is the first day of a new journey”.
A few weeks ago, in the middle of the World Cup, Kylian Mbappé sent his support to Pelé, whose health was already worrying, inviting him to “pray for the King”. To which he replied by congratulating him on a new record, that of the youngest player to reach 9 goals in the competition: “Thank you Kylian Mbappé. I’m happy to see another of my records broken in this World Cup, my friend.”
A fraternal relationship ended this Thursday with a last message from the French in homage to the deceased legend: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. Rest in peace to the king.”