Kylian Mbappé, Pelé’s chosen successor
“The king of football has passed away, but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP RE. » It is with this sentence that Kylian Mbappé was one of the first – if not the first – footballer to pay tribute to Pelé, who died at the age of 82. However, the Paris Saint-Germain striker has never seen the Brazilian play. His father, Wilfrid, hadn’t even been born when Pelé won his third World Cup in 1970. That doesn’t stop Mbappé from knowing that the former Santos is a legend in the sport. Especially since Kyks, if he didn’t get to see him live in the field, was able to meet Pelé during an event organized in April 2019 by a watch brand of which they were partners. And as is customary in this kind of meeting, the two men had exchanged compliments. Whether it’s Mbappé – “I’ve learned that the biggest stars and the best players are the humblest and most respectful, the ones who can keep their feet on the ground. Respect, humility and lucidity, values that my parents passed on to me, values that I am proud to share today with my dear family, and King Pelé, who perfectly embodies what my parents have always taught me”. – or Pele: “I am honored to have the opportunity to personally meet Kylian. It symbolizes the embodiment of the new generation of footballers and carries the values of a sport that inspires and unites the world. I’m glad to see that it symbolizes hope, that of all possibilities, the dreams we have to believe in and for which we have to fight, regardless of our origins, our social status. » An exchange that could have ended there, but which gave birth to a real one bromance which manifested itself with strong tributes on social networks or during the rare interviews given by the Brazilian.
In the footsteps of the King
Pele didn’t wait to see a watch brand force the bout to send praise to Kylian Mbappé. It must be said that the former Monaco striker is the only one to have followed in the Brazilian’s footsteps at the World Cup. And especially in 2018, when Kyks became the second youngest player to score at least two goals in a World Cup knockout match behind… Pelé who hopped on his phone to congratulate his padawan: “Congratulations Kylian Mbappé, two goals in such a young World Cup put you in good company. » A few days later, Bondy’s boy had planted a pawn against Croatia to become the second youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind… Pelé who had once again rushed to his smartphone: “If Kylian keeps equaling my records like this, I might have to dust off my cleats. » A few weeks later, Pelé spoke on the Canal + microphone about this affiliation which unites him with Mbappé: “He won the World Cup at 19, I was only 17. I chastised him, telling him he was almost up to me. I think he could become the new Pele! Many think he says it for fun, but no, it’s not a joke. To make me happier, you have to win another World Cup now. » A wish that has not yet been fulfilled, even if Mbappé was just a penalty away from becoming the second player under 24 to win two CDMs after Pelé. But in Qatar the Blues striker still took the opportunity to surpass his eldest son in the number of goals scored by an under-24 player at the World Cup (12 against 7) and in the number of pawns planted in the final. 4 against 3). This time Pele didn’t have the strength to pick up the phone to congratulate him.
A designated successor
Little known for his modesty, Pelé never really thought he could have an heir: “Records are meant to be broken, but it will be difficult to beat mine. People always ask me when the new Pele will be born. Never ! My father and mother closed the factory. » Yet since then there have been thousands of players labeled “New Pele”. Oh King put away the crampons. But no one obviously lived up to that nickname after Pele, who still often complimented Neymar, who equaled his goalscoring tally for Brazil during the World Cup in Qatar. Only that Kylian Mbappé arrived and very quickly attracted the attention of Pelé who was ecstatic for the Gazzetta dello Sport : “He can be my successor, it’s no joke. I see myself in his ability to play fast. He is a striker who thinks quickly. When the ball comes to him, he already knows where to go and how to direct the game.. It is true that the similarity between the two men is evident, whether from a physical, technical or precocious point of view. But Mbappé will have to whip to lift two new World Cups and equal the record of his eldest son who had launched a mission when he met in 2019: to score, like him, more than 1000 goals in his career. Only Kyks won’t count his goals in training.