Kylian Mbappe was once whisked to the Real Madrid training ground by Zinedine Zidane after being scouted by Los Blancos as a teenager. The prodigious talent became a well-known name around Europe during his youth, most of which he spent at his local club AS Bondy before being picked up by Monaco.
During his upbringing in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, Mbappe was earmarked as a future international star and trained at the French academy in Clairefontaine.
He was also invited to Chelsea’s Cobham base among other expeditions, but a car journey with Zidane in 2012 is particularly memorable for the 21-year-old.
Recounting the experience to The Players’ Tribune, Mbappe wrote: “Right before my 14th birthday, I got an incredible surprise.
“My father received a call from someone at Real Madrid, inviting me to come to Spain for a training session over the holiday break.
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“It was a shock, because they actually told my father, ‘Zidane would like to see your son.’
“At the time, Zizou was the sporting director. Of course, I was over the moon. I was desperate to go.
“But it was not so simple, actually, because scouts were starting to come to our matches, and I was getting some attention from the media.
“When you’re 13 years old, you don’t know how to handle it. There was a lot of pressure, and my family wanted to protect me.
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“But it was actually my 14th birthday that week, and what I didn’t know is that my parents were organising everything with the club so that they could take me to Madrid as a present.
“And believe it or not, we didn’t tell anyone where we were going. I didn’t even tell my closest friends, because I was too nervous. If things didn’t go well, I didn’t want to come back to my neighbourhood and disappoint them.
“I will never forget the moment that we arrived at the training center from the airport.
“Zidane met us in the parking lot by his car, and it was a really nice car, of course.
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“We said hello, and then he offered to drive me over to the field for training. He was pointing at the front seat, like: ‘Go on, get in.’
“But I just froze and I asked, ‘Should I take off my shoes?’ Hahaha! I don’t know why I said that. But it was Zizou’s car!
“He thought that was really funny. He said, ‘Of course not, come on, get in.’
“He drove me to the training pitch, and I was just thinking to myself, I am in Zizou’s car. I am Kylian from Bondy. This is not real.
“I must still be sleeping on the airplane. Sometimes, even when you are really living something, it feels like a dream.”
Mbappe has been intensely linked to Real in the past few years after the Spanish giants missed out on signing the Frenchman in the summer of 2017.
Former Monaco vice president Vadim Vasilyev predicted his former pupil will make the move in an interview with Telefoot earlier this year.
“It is coming [a move to Real Madrid], but he told me that was his feeling and he was right,” Vasilyev said.
“I told him: ‘They will come knocking and the entire Santiago Bernabeu will applaud when you arrive. You do not need confirmation to know that.'”
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