‘New start against strong Orange’
24-year-old Kylian Mbappé’s star was quickly rising. At club level, but certainly also as an international of France.
Tomorrow it will be exactly six years since he made his first minutes in the French team. At 18 years, three months and five days old, the then AS Monaco striker was the second youngest debutant for France. Only Marian Wisniewski was allowed to don the jersey of ‘Les Bleus’ a few weeks earlier in 1955.
Mbappé is now 66 caps, 36 goals, a world title (2018) and a hat trick in a lost World Cup final (2022) further on. A new milestone awaits him tonight against the Netherlands (8:45 p.m., live at NOS), against whom he also scored his first international goal in August 2017. He succeeds the stopped goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as captain of the “Roosters.
“A huge honor,” the speedy Paris Saint-Germain striker kicks in the open door without hesitation. “A huge responsibility too. But above all, it’s a lot of fun. As a child, I dreamed of playing for France and winning titles. To then also be captain now is too crazy. But I’m ready for it.”
Mbappé faces debut as captain France: ‘Huge honor’
At least the band around his arm will not make him become a different person. “Sure things do change. I have to think about the team first now. But other than that, I’m just going to stay the same person. I’m not going to change. I always act the same to everybody.”
With the new captain, the French national team is also entering a new phase, as in addition to 36-year-old Lloris, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and experienced center defender Raphaël Varane have also retired from their international careers. “Yes, that’s right, we are going to start something new. We will have to get going and that starts against a strong opponent.”
Hard to beat
By this, Mbappé is referring to the Netherlands so, the first opponent in European Championship qualification group B. But the Dutch are struggling with personnel problems. Especially the absence of Cody Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong can be called a loss.
“That doesn’t change anything,” the Frenchman believes. “It’s still a good team that will be hard to beat. We hope to win and qualify for the European Championship. And then we’ll see from there.”