MOSCOW (Reuters) - Teenager Kylian Mbappe confirmed his status as the new star of international football with a superb goal and impressive display in France’s 4-2 World Cup final triumph over Croatia on Sunday.
At the end of a World Cup in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi headed home after the first knockout round and Brazilian Neymar failed to deliver, the game perhaps needed a new talent to excite the global public.
The 19-year-old from Bondy, on the gritty north-east outskirts of Paris, has provided it with his terrifying pace, superb touch and clinical finishing in ample evidence.
With his goal, Mbappe became the first teenager since the great Brazilian Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final.
Mbappe, who netted four goals in Russia, was also voted the young player of the tournament, recognition of his excellent performances, particularly in the knockout stages.
Former Germany World Cup player and coach Juergen Klinsmann, working as a BBC pundit at the tournament, believes the Paris St Germain forward can become one of the greats of the game.
“There is so much to come down the road. He is shaking up the market. With Ronaldo moving (to Juventus) and (Paris St Germain’s) Neymar being linked with other clubs, where is it finishing with this kid?”
The striker, who joined PSG from Monaco in a multi-million dollar deal among the biggest the game has seen, showed his finishing ability on the biggest stage of all with a low drive in the 65th minute for his team’s fourth goal.
He ended the game dancing around the field in delight with his team mates as he celebrated becoming a world champion
“I’m very happy. The road was long but it was worth it. We are proud to make the French happy. We had this role to help them forget all their problems. We play for that kind of thing,” said the forward.
“I do not just want to be in football but rather to be world champion. I want to do even better, but world champion is already good. We’re going to celebrate, we’ve been working all season and now it’s time to celebrate this summer.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond