The French foot­baller, cap­tain of the French nation­al team and still the strik­er and nom­i­nal leader of Paris Saint-Ger­main, Kylian Mbappe, gave a long inter­view on the eve of Euro 2024 in which he talked about what he was expe­ri­enc­ing at a turn­ing point in his career.

How it all began?

Kil­ian has been train­ing since he was 6 years old. First, he came to the foot­ball school of the semi-pro­fes­sion­al Bon­di club, where his father was the coach. Then the future world cham­pi­on end­ed up in one of the best foot­ball acad­e­mies in France — Claire­fontaine.

At the age of 13, Mbappe had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to move to Real Madrid; Zine­dine Zidane, who worked with the club’s youth team, was inter­est­ed in him. How­ev­er, the foot­ball player’s father was afraid that the young ath­lete would have lit­tle play­ing time there, so it was decid­ed not to move to Spain.

Two years lat­er, 15-year-old Mbappe signed his first pro­fes­sion­al con­tract with AS Mona­co. There he received a sign­ing bonus of 400 thou­sand euros, the stan­dard salary of an acad­e­my play­er — 600–700 euros per month — and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove him­self.

Mbappe signed a con­tract with Real Madrid. The details of the agree­ment are already known

Ambitions, records and no limits

Kylian Mbappe has shown a very high lev­el of play since he was six­teen years old. Since his debut at Mona­co and then his move to Paris Saint-Ger­main in 2017 (on loan with an option to buy for €180 mil­lion), his desire to devel­op pro­fes­sion­al­ly has grown steadi­ly.

More­over, the ath­lete has always had a holis­tic approach to progress: “I think that in addi­tion to work­ing on tech­ni­cal para­me­ters (such as kick­ing with the left foot or head), it is impor­tant to expand your vision. Play­ing with six or sev­en dif­fer­ent coach­es, I learned six or sev­en ways to do my job. I devel­oped dif­fer­ent facets of my game and con­stant­ly updat­ed myself. The right mind­set for progress is to lis­ten and adapt.”

We can talk for hours about the rapid suc­cess of a native of the 19th arrondisse­ment of Paris. He won the World Cup at the age of nine­teen, becom­ing the youngest play­er to break into the Top 5 of the Bal­lon d’Or. How­ev­er, the best scor­er in the his­to­ry of Paris Saint-Ger­main and the six-time French cham­pi­on him­self claims that all these records do not occu­py his thoughts every day, but sim­ply high­light his con­tri­bu­tion to the work of the team and the club.

Inside the super­star with bound­less ambi­tions, who flaw­less­ly builds his per­son­al brand, there con­tin­ues to be a boy with a pas­sion for foot­ball and the hob­bies of his age. This approach is undoubt­ed­ly one of Kylian Mbappe’s strengths, one of the keys to his deter­mi­na­tion, his desire to progress, break all records and, ulti­mate­ly, for­ev­er leave a mark on the his­to­ry of his sport.

“The desire to win, push bound­aries and do great things is ingrained in me. I think I owe that to the edu­ca­tion and sup­port I received on and off the field. It helped me build myself as a play­er and as a per­son. We tend to for­get that we are eter­nal chil­dren when we play foot­ball. So, of course, the lev­el changes, but the men­tal­i­ty does not change, because the pas­sion pass­es through the years.”

More responsibility

To pass each lev­el, Kylian Mbappe relies on his men­tal­i­ty and expe­ri­ence, com­mu­ni­cates with great ath­letes such as Roger Fed­er­er, Kevin Durant, Rafael Nadal, Niko­la Kara­bat­ic or Novak Djokovic, and agrees to take on more respon­si­bil­i­ty. The lat­est clear exam­ple is his cap­tain­cy in the French nation­al team, which allowed him to gain matu­ri­ty and close­ness with his play­ing part­ners.

“The cap­tain is the guar­an­tor and ambas­sador of the team. Now I have a respon­si­bil­i­ty to keep in touch with each play­er to make sure every­one is in the best con­di­tions to help the team. A big dif­fer­ence from before: I was focused on my game and what I could bring to the team indi­vid­u­al­ly. Being a cap­tain is a new vision of foot­ball.”

More work

A June 2023 report by FIFPRO, the inter­na­tion­al fed­er­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing pro­fes­sion­al play­ers, found that ath­letes’ phys­i­cal and men­tal health is dete­ri­o­rat­ing due to insuf­fi­cient recov­ery after games.

For­mer Les Bleus cap­tain Raphael Varane was wor­ried about this ear­ly last year, a few months after the gru­el­ing World Cup in Qatar.

“I’m afraid that we will see much short­er careers and that play­ers will have to give up the French nation­al team very ear­ly because phys­i­cal­ly or men­tal­ly what we are ask­ing for today is sim­ply beyond the lim­its,” warned the expe­ri­enced Man­ches­ter defend­er.

Kylian Mbappe also expressed his con­cerns on this issue: “Foot­ball is mov­ing towards the NBA mod­el with sev­en­ty game sea­sons. Per­son­al­ly, I don’t mind play­ing so much, but we can’t be good every time and give the audi­ence the show they expect. In the NBA, play­ers don’t play every game; they prac­tice load man­age­ment. And if I decid­ed to say, ‘I’m tired, I won’t play on Sat­ur­day,’ it would­n’t work.”

Mbappe under­stands the view­er who pays for a tick­et and wants to see a decent “show,” but says that ath­letes should have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rest and recov­er if the num­ber of match­es increas­es.

More wins

“We live in an era of over-con­sump­tion, with a lot of games, where peo­ple expect a lot from play­ers. The pres­sure does­n’t have a neg­a­tive effect on me and I need it to per­form. This is what allows you to main­tain the lev­el of skill required to play at the high­est lev­el,” the foot­baller is con­fi­dent, adding that his demands on him­self far exceed those of observers.

Led by Kylian Mbappe, the Blues set a record with France’s biggest ever win (14–0 over Gibral­tar).

“A score like this is nev­er triv­ial and what stands out about this match is the respect we had for our oppo­nent, for our­selves and for the crowd. We played from the first to the last minute. Of course, we will only be remem­bered if we win impor­tant tour­na­ments, but per­haps we will remem­ber lat­er that this was the team that lost with a score of 14:0,” the nation­al team cap­tain com­ment­ed on the vic­to­ry.

“Win it all”

At twen­ty-five years old, Kylian Mbappe is expe­ri­enc­ing an impor­tant turn­ing point in his sports career. He faces a dilem­ma: to engrave his name in the gold­en book of French foot­ball or to forge his own path by join­ing a league where he has long been wel­comed and shine there? And this is, of course, more a mat­ter of oppor­tu­ni­ty than mon­ey.

“Many great play­ers who made foot­ball his­to­ry left Europe this sum­mer and we are enter­ing a new era of foot­ball. This is nat­ur­al for this sport, and at some point it will be my turn to leave. “I’m not wor­ried about these changes and am just think­ing about con­tin­u­ing my career in my own direc­tion,” says the third great­est ath­lete on the plan­et.