Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has explained his special childhood memory of meeting his idol Zinedine Zidane for the first time.
The teenager’s father had received a phone call from Real Madrid which was inviting Kylian to come and train with the club due to his high promise in France.
The future striker explained how he met his fellow Frenchman at the club’s training ground and then told his anecdote of how he was so star struck he did not know what to say when Zidane invited to drive him directly to the training area.
The incident took place just over six years ago – when Zidane was coaching youth teams at Los Blancos – and would be the first meeting between two football idols who are often complimentary of each other.
Mbappe has frequently spoken of his continued admiration for Zidane – fuelling reports of a future move to the Spanish capital, while Zidane has been reciprocal with his compliments.
The two have faced each other directly on four separate occasions – for their Round of 16 Champions League clash in the 2017/18 campaign and again during the group stages this season.
The following section of text was taken from Mbappe’s piece on The Players’ Tribune, entitled “A Letter to the Young Kylians.”
“Then, 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. 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.
“But it was actually my 14th birthday that week, and what I didn’t know is that my parents were organizing everything with the club so that they could take me to Madrid as a present.
“Quite a surprise for me!
“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 neighborhood 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. 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.”