French striker Kylian Mbappé explained that when Zidane called him with 14 years to perform a test with the Real Madrid quarry, it was like “being on the moon”, since the current white coach was his idol as a child and the one he used to decorate the wall of his room together with Cristiano Ronaldo. «Some children have superhero posters on the walls of their rooms. I had a lot of Zidane and Cristiano. (To be fair, when I grew up I also put some of Neymar, which he finds very funny, but that’s another story!) ”, Explains Mbappé in an open letter published in“ The Players Tribune ”, where he narrates his childhood and adolescence in Bondy, a suburb neighborhood outside Paris.
The forward recounts the “incredible surprise” he received coinciding with his 14th birthday. «My father received a call from someone from Real Madrid inviting me to come to Spain for a training session during the holidays. It was a surprise, because they actually told my father: “Zidane would like to see your son.” At that time, Zizou was the sports director. Of course, I was on the moon. I was desperate to go, ”he says.
«I will never forget the moment we arrived at the training center from the airport. Zidane met us in the parking lot next to his car, and it was a really nice car, of course. We greeted each other and then offered to take me to the field. I was pointing to the front seat, as if saying ‘come on, come in’. But I froze and asked, “Should I take my shoes off?” Hahaha! I don’t know why I said that. But it was Zizou’s car! He thought that was quite funny and told me: “Of course not, come on, come in,” he says.
However, the world champion clarifies that his test at Real Madrid “was not really that easy”. «The talent scouts had begun to come to see my matches and I was already receiving some attention from the media. When you’re 13, you don’t know how to handle it. There was a lot of pressure and my family wanted to protect me, ”he recalls.
For that reason, he rejected both Real Madrid and Chelsea, a club with which he also performed tests when he was a teenager. «I begged my parents to let me leave Bondy and go to a big club, but you have to understand them. They wanted me to stay at home to be a child and live a normal life. I did not understand it at that time, but it was really the best for me, because I learned many difficult lessons that I would never have learned in the bubble of an academy, ”he reflects.
In addition, Mbappé also recalls the World Cup won in 2018 by France and stresses that he lived “like a child.” «Of all the memories, the one I will never forget is when we were in the tunnel before the first game against Australia, waiting to leave. I was hit by what I was living. I looked at Ousmane Dembélé and we were just smiling and shaking our heads. We went out to the countryside and felt 65 million people behind us. When I heard the Marseillaise, I could have cried, ”he says.