World Cup 2022

Kylian Mbappé adds to his international legacy despite World Cup loss

The 23-year-old superstar bagged a crucial hat-trick against Argentina to help France force a penalty shootout in what was another influential World Cup final appearance

Perhaps it was always written in the stars that Lionel Messi would finally become a World Cup champion after sixteen years on the international stage chasing the legendary figure of Diego Maradona.

Now that the 35-year-old has, for many, bypassed Maradona’s legacy while boasting the CV to be dubbed the greatest player in football history, a generation of football that has been defined for so long by the influence of both Messi and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo is rapidly coming to an end.

The man to pick up that mantel and become the unquestioned flag bearer of the beautiful game can only be one; Kylian Mbappé.

And despite him only being just 23, the Paris-born French superstar has long been at the head of Gallic football since his influence was felt four years ago in Russia while scoring four goals in his first World cup tournament as just a 19-year-old while also scoring in Les Bleus’ 4-2 win in the finals over Croatia.

But with his near-miss at immortality after scoring a hat-trick during a magical second-half comeback against Argentina still mulled over as one of the great moments that never was, Mbappé has already created World Cup history when he became the first player to ever score four total goals while appearing in the final.

Mbappé's eight goals in Qatar were a tournament-best, putting him on 12 career goals on football’s biggest stage, and has already seen him bypass names that have stood the test of time across the annals of World Cup lore, with Sándor Kocsis, Jürgen Klinsmann, Helmut Rahn, Grzegorz Lato, Ademir, and Eusébio now in his rearview.

Most impressively, Mbappe is just four goals shy of equalling Miroslav Klose’s all-time goalscoring record at the World Cup while Lionel Messi & Just Fontaine (13), Gerd Müller (14), and Ronaldo are well within striking distance come 2026.

Last night may have ended in heartbreak for Mbappé, but not only has he already begun to add to his considerable footnote on the global game, but he is also sure to continue to set records while having time on his side.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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