Moscow (dpa) – Brazilian football legend Pele is worried that his exploits in the game are going to be eclipsed by 19-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe – who scored as France beat Croatia 4-2 to win their second World Cup in Moscow on Saturday.
So worried, in fact, that he joked that he's considering a return to playing – at 77 years of age.
“If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this I may have to dust my boots off again,” Pele said, after Mbappe emulated his previously unique feat of scoring in the final as a teenager.
At 19, Mbappe is older than Pele was when he managed the feat. The Brazilian was just 17 when he scored a brace against Sweden in 1958 to help his country to its first World Cup. The next teenager to score a double in a single World Cup match? Mbappe, of course, in France's 4-3 win over Argentina in the round of 16.
With Mbappe in their team, it's no wonder the French are already anticipating a third World Cup success, allowing them to add a further star to their jersey. “He's capable of bringing home a third star in 2022, 2026 or 2030,” the newspaper Le Parisien wrote on Monday, adding that Mbappe had entered “the pantheon.”
The young man from the Parisian banlieue of Bondy will have to go some if he is to put Pele in the shade, though. The Brazilian played at four World Cups, winning three – in 1958, 1962 and 1970 – and scored 77 goals in 92 internationals.