We are pleased to announce a new regular feature in our popular New African sports section: Profiles of some of the best soccer players in the world--who also happen to be African. We begin with two players who featured in the 2018 World Cup-winning French side Kylian Mbappe, the youngest, and Steve Mandanda, the oldest.
Since his professional debut for AS Monaco as a late substitute against SM Caen on 2 December 2015 at the tender age of 16, Mbappe's rise has been nothing short of meteoric.
Kylian Sanmi Mbappe Lottin's father Wilfried is Cameroonian while his mother, Fayza hails from Algeria. Luckily for the French national team, his parents had settled in France by the time Kylian was born in Paris on 20 December 1998, less than six months after the nation's first World Cup triumph.
His first professional club however was not the Parisian powerhouse of PSG but rather Monaco, where Leonardo Jardim would give him his debut.
The next season, in 2017, he formed a lethal partnership with Colombian striker Radamel Falcao to bring the Ligue 1 title back to Monaco for the first time since the beginning of this century.
Manchester City fans in the UK may well remember him scoring in both legs of their round-of-16 Champions League contest. City won the home leg 5-3 before going down 3-1 in France, thus losing the tie on away goals. Monaco's ride came to a halt in the semi-final when they lost both legs to Italian giants Juventus.
At that point, this exciting, attacking team was 'dismantled ' as Mbappe and several of his high-class teammates, including Neymar, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayokoto were sold to various clubs for a fortune.
Mbappe headed to the city of his birth to join Paris Saint-Germain, initially on loan, with an agreement to make the deal permanent the following season for 180m [euro], making it the second-highest transfer tee in history.
Manchester City did get some sort of 'revenge' when they signed both Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy from the team that had put six goals past them and knocked them out of Europe's premier club competition, for a combined 100m [euro], while Tiemoue Bakayokoto went to Chelsea for 40m [euro].
In his first season at PSG, Mbappe would again win the French title, this time as part of a domestic treble, as he and his new teammates would also lift the Coupe de France and best his former club 3-0 in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue, a game in which he would win the Man of the Match...