When England step out at Doha’s Al Bayt stadium on Saturday for their quarter final clash against defending champions France, they will come face to face with one of the world’s greatest footballing talents.
At the tender age of 23, Kylian Mbappé has already etched his name into the annals of world football.
He already boasts one World Cup in his trophy cabinet, having guided his country to ultimate glory in their 2018 campaign aged just 19, scoring four goals along the way.
Four years on, the young phenom from a small Parisian suburb has developed into a truly terrifying striker, racking up a tournament-best five goals in Qatar after just four games.
Now it is the turn of Gareth Southgate’s men to try and halt France’s golden boy, who appears to be striding confidently toward a second second successive World Cup.
But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Mbappé, who told the New York Times earlier this year: ‘I want to be more than just the guy who shoots the ball and goes to his yacht and takes his money.’
He is renowned for his philanthropic endeavours, having launched his own foundation for disadvantaged youths in Paris and donated all of his national team match fees to charity, and refuses to endorse any brands associated with alcohol, gambling and fast food.
He is also a shrewd businessman with a keen eye for fashion, having inked a sea of deftly curated partnerships with the likes of Nike, Electronic Arts, Hublot, Dior and Oakley – all while earning up to an eye-watering £1.2million a week from his club Paris Saint-Germain.
Yet despite his superstardom, he is still known to his teammates and friends as ‘Donatello’ – a moniker bestowed upon him by compatriot Presnel Kimpembe for his likeness to the relaxed, nerdy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
And although he signed with superagency WME Sports earlier this year, most of his footballing life has been guided by father Wilfried and mother Fayza – the latter of whom is by no means shy when it comes to discussions over her son’s career.
Here, MailOnline takes a deep dive into the life of France’s leading light ahead of his clash against the Three Lions in Doha this Saturday.
France’s forward #10 Kylian Mbappé (L) shoots to score his team’s second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between France and Poland at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 4, 2022
Kylian Mbappé of France celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between France and Poland
A boy from humble beginnings
Unnervingly, Mbappé was not even born when France last won their last World Cup without him in 1998.
Born to a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother, Mbappé is the product of immigration and grew up in the banlieues of Bondy, a small suburban commune located just six miles from the Parisian city centre.
Despite its proximity to the city centre, Bondy bears little resemblance to the grandeur and affluence of the Champs-Élysées.
It is part of the infamous Seine St Denis 93rd arrondissement – one of the France’s poorest neighbourhoods which over the years has earned a reputation for sky-high crime rates and violence. But football provides a select few talented and hardworking youngsters from the ’93’ a source of hope.
And it just so happened that Mbappé’s father Wilfried was a coach at local club AS Bondy, a team in the 10th tier of French football.
Knowing the opportunity that lay ahead of his son, Wilfried strapped a pair of football boots onto Kylian’s feet at age five and took him to his first training session.
Fourteen year old Kylian Mbappé at home in his bedroom in Bondy, a suburb of Paris, adorned with photos of Cristiano Ronaldo
Kylian Mbappé of France and Paris Saint-Germain wins the Kopa Trophy for best young player at the Ballon D’Or ceremony at Le Grand Palais on December 3, 2018 in Paris, France
Just four years later, Mbappé knew he was destined to be one of the world’s best and along with his family had elucidated a plan to get there, according to French football journalist Ronan Boscher.
Wilfried may have got Mbappé started on the football field, but his mother, Fayza Lamari, was a professional handball player who played for the French national team and had an intimate knowledge of the rigours of what goes on behind the scenes of top level sport.
Together, Mbappé’s parents doubled as agents and representatives for their son, helping him to negotiate deals and guide his development to the top flight of French football.
Even after Mbappé signed with superagency WME in June of this year, his parents still maintain an active role in his entourage, with mother Fayza remaining particularly outspoken in her pride for her son and her opinions on his career.
With outstanding talent, a fervent work rate and parents devoted to building his career, it should come as no surprise then that Mbappé has become one of the world’s best players.
‘It is better to target the moon. That way, if you fail, you get to the clouds,’ a teenage Mbappé once told interviewers.
It has not taken long for this footballing comet to soar.
Kylian Mbappé and Brazilian football legend Pele pose together ahead of a meeting in Paris, France, 2019. Mbappé’s charitable foundation Inspired by KM sponsored the event
A fashion mogul and possibly France’s most eligible bachelor
Like many famous footballers, the French striker and Paris Saint-Germain player has become a well-known socialite after taking strides into the world of fashion.
Whether that be signing deals with Dior, teaming up with Swiss watchmaker Hublot or working as a global ambassador for eyewear brand Oakley, the 23-year-old is making a name for himself.
For months Mbappé has been romantically linked with a pair of high profile beauties, but there is no definitive answer on whether he is currently in a relationship and some fans are eager to know whether he is scoring off the pitch.
There are strong rumours the French superstar is dating 27-year-old model Rose Bertram – who is four years his senior.
There are strong rumours the French superstar is dating 27-year-old model Rose Bertram – who is four years his senior
Ms Bertram, from Belgium, who has almost 900,000 followers on Instagram, was signed by a model agency aged just 13.
Her father is from Belgium while her mother was born in Cape Verdan.
She then appeared in an array of high street campaigns, for brands including H&M, L’Oreal, Primark and Agent Provocateur.
At the end of July, the Belgian beauty is said to have ended her eight year romance with Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel and made a play for Mbappé.
But the French footballer was also pictured on a yacht earlier this year carrying a trans model in his arms.
Ines Rau, the first transgender person to make it into the front pages of Playboy, joined the footballer on a yacht after attending the Cannes Film Festival.
It has only been a matter of months since Mbappé was pictured carrying trans model Ines Rau in his arms on a yacht in Cannes
Ines Rau, who has one million followers on Instagram, was the first trans person to have been plastered over the front pages of Playboy
Speaking to the magazine, Rau said: ‘It’s how I celebrated my coming out, actually… took that chance, and then I signed with an agency.’
Although there was a backlash against Playboy’s decision, Cooper Hefner, son of the magazine’s founder Hugh Hefner, tweeted in 2017: ‘We should collectively be fighting for a more open world, not one that promotes hatred and a lack of acceptance.’
The trans model was named Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month for November 2017.
A world-class footballer
Kylian Mbappé is many things, but he is above all a supreme operator on the football pitch.
He made his debut in Ligue 1 – France’s top flight – on December 2, 2015, breaking Thierry Henry’s record to become the club’s youngest player at 16 years and 347 days.
He quickly set about dismantling French defences one by one, scoring 26 goals in his first full season as the club won the French title.
The boy wonder then moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 in a £166m transfer aged just 18 – making him the most expensive teenage player of all time – and also made his debut with the French national team.
One year later the boy from Bondy announced his arrival on the world stage, netting four goals in France’s march to the 2018 World Cup before returning to Paris and guiding PSG to another Ligue 1 title, winning the league’s Player Of The Year award and finishing the season as top goalscorer.
As of December 2022, Mbappé has scored a whopping 302 goals in all competitions so far in his club career and 33 goals for the national team, according to footballer player database Transfermarkt.
Mbappé already has nine career World Cup goals and if he stays healthy will probably play in at least another three editions of the tournament – meaning he could well exceed the tournament’s career scoring record held by Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored 16 goals over four World Cups.
As of December 2022, Mbappé has scored a whopping 302 goals in all competitions so far in his club career (pictured playing for PSG May 2022)
Kylian Mbappé of France celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between France and Poland at Al Thumama Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Doha, Qatar
But statistics alone cannot adequately describe Mbappé’s devastating speed, imposing strength and goalscoring prowess. Perhaps this is best left to fellow players, managers and greats of the game who have heaped a mountain of superlative praise on the young Frenchman.
Italian and Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli said of Mbappé: ‘He is a devastating player. I’ve met some over the years, but at his age with that technique, physical strength, pace, and above all his movement – because he changes things up and makes excellent movements off the ball – I’ve not seen someone like him.’
Cristiano Ronaldo – Mbappé’s boyhood hero – said in 2020: ‘Mbappé is the future and the present. He is fantastic. He will be the future.’
And Poland and Aston Villa right back Matty Cash – who was given the unenviable and ultimately futile task of containing Mbappé in Poland’s round-of-16 loss to France in Qatar this weekend – told MailOnline after the game: ‘Amazing, obviously unbelievable, probably my toughest opponent.
‘I think Mbappé is electric… He’s a different level. I play in the Premier League week-in, week-out, and I play against top-class wingers, but he’s easily going to be the best player in the world.
‘Speed, movement, look at his finishing. He’s got everything. He put two in the top corner, one in the left and one in the right… he’s probably in the top two or three players in the world.’
A principled role model and philanthropist
Despite achieving sporting superstardom, Mbappé has not allowed the dizzying heights of fame to pull him away from his roots or his principles.
Upon arriving in France’s top flight, he made a point of taking on a number of charitable engagements; attending numerous fundraisers, visiting disadvantaged communities to play football with young kids and giving away considerable sums of money to help those in need.
He donated the entirety of his salary for France’s victorious World Cup campaign in 2018 – roughly £400,000 – to a children’s charity, telling TIME Magazine: ‘I did not need to be paid. I was there to defend the colours of the country.
‘I earn enough money – a lot of money. So I think it is important to help those who are in need. A lot of people are suffering… for people like us, giving a helping hand to people is not a big thing.’
To this day, he reportedly forgoes his France match fees.
Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe takes part in a football match with children from the ‘Premiers de Cordee’ Association at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 22, 2019
Kylian Mbappé hid Budweiser’s name after winning the player of the match against Australia
In 2020, he set up charitable foundation Inspired by KM, which supports 98 disadvantaged children from a range of backgrounds through school until they begin working, and provides funding to give them access to a variety of extracurricular activities.
And as Mbappé has grown older, his guiding principles have become even more apparent.
He has been outspoken in his condemnation of vices like gambling, alcohol and fast food, choosing not to sign any sponsorship deals with companies involved in industries he deems harmful.
Mbappé got into a row with the French Football Federation (FFF) after he led a boycott of certain sponsors back in March as he did not want to be associated with particular brands.
The FFF struck a £7m deal with online sports betting company Betclic last year, with that contract running through until the 2026 World Cup, and also has ties with KFC, Uber Eats and Coca-Cola.
In Qatar, Mbappé has been deliberately hiding Budweiser’s name in his man of the match photographs to avoid promoting alcohol at the World Cup.
A ruthless businessman
Mbappé’s ruthless streak is not reserved for the football pitch alone.
He is a shrewd operator when it comes to backroom deals and is acutely aware of his worth in footballing terms, but also commercially.
Having already marked himself out as PSG’s star player, Mbappé early this year threatened to leave and go to Real Madrid.
His brutal negotiation tactics forced PSG’s hand, and the club put together a staggering wage packet to convince their beloved striker to stay.
The forward signed a new bumper contract in the summer after speculation he could leave
Mbappé has set up a US-based production company called Zebra Valley which inked a multi-year deal with the NBA. Mbappé maintains a close relationship with basketball superstar LeBron James (pair pictured together)
Mbappé will earn over £547million in gross salary over three years, which will make him the highest-paid sportsperson ever.
The contract includes a £156million signing bonus payable over three years that will be paid in full even if Mbappé leaves, a £61million loyalty bonus to be received at the end of the season that will increase every year, and an option of an extra two years that can be triggered only by the player himself.
The deal was only signed when French president Emmanuel Macron stepped in and pleaded with Mbappé to stay in France.
French sports outlet L’Equipe reported that Mbappé was also promised there would be a complete overhaul of the club’s management and a shift in focus from global marketing of the club’s brand to doing whatever is necessary to win the Champions League.
The teams sporting director was also fired and replaced by Luís Campos – a friend of Mbappé from their days at Monaco – showing the star’s influence over not only his fellow PSG players but the club as a whole.
Besides his incredible PSG contract and numerous lucrative sponsorship deals with world-renowned brands, Mbappé has also set up a US-based production company called Zebra Valley, with an emphasis on creating ‘inspiring content about people and ideas that change the world’.
In June, Zebra Valley inked a multi-year deal with the NBA, and Mbappé’s close relationship with basketball superstar LeBron James, who also has a production company focused on similar goals, has been widely publicised.