Kylian Mbappe has lifted the lid on his short spell training with Chelsea as a youngster, revealing how he boasted to his friends about meeting Blues ace Didier Drogba. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar came close to joining the Blues after undergoing a trial as an 11-year-old, while he was also invited to train with Real Madrid.
However, Mbappe’s parents blocked a move to the Premier League and the World Cup winner has now recognised how the decision helped him develop out of the limelight.
Writing in a column for The Players’ Tribune, the French winger explained his disbelief at being invited to London for a trial and revealed his awe at meeting Chelsea frontman Drogba.
“When I was 11 years old, I got to go to London for a few days to train with Chelsea’s youth team,” wrote Mbappe.
“I was so excited and shocked that I didn’t even want to tell my friends from the neighborhood where I was going.
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“When I came back home, my friends saw me and said, ‘Kylian, where were you last week?’
“I said, ‘I was in London with Chelsea.’
“They said, ‘Pfff, no it’s impossible.’
“I said, ‘No, I swear, I even met Drogba.’
“They said, ‘Pfff, you’re lying. Drogba doesn’t meet kids from Bondy. It is not possible!’”
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Mbappe would have been rubbing shoulders with a Chelsea squad that went on to lift the Premier League title and retain the FA Cup in 2009/10.
Drogba was an integral part of this dominant campaign, scoring 37 goals in all competitions, and Mbappe’s friends required photographic evidence to prove the youngster met the Chelsea hero.
“I didn’t have a phone back then, so I asked my dad to give me his, and I showed them the pictures we took,” wrote Mbappe.
“That’s when they finally believed me. But the important thing was that they were not jealous. Not at all.
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“They were just amazed I will never forget what they said to me. I can still picture it, because we were actually in the changing room at AS Bondy [Mbappe’s youth team], getting dressed for a match.
“They said, ‘Kylian, can you take us there with you?’
“It was like I had gone to another planet. I said, ‘But the camp is over now. I’m sorry.’
“They were looking down at the phone, laughing and shaking their heads. They said, ‘Wow. It’s like we are living this moment with you, Kylian.’
“That’s how much it means to us. Going to these places, it’s like visiting another planet.”
Fast-forward 10 years and Mbappe is being targeted by Real Madrid, having established himself as one of the most exciting talents in world football.
The 21-year-old has secured three consecutive Ligue 1 titles, first with Monaco then PSG, and was part of France’s World Cup-winning side of 2018.
He has also picked up a host of individual accolades and is being linked with a move to the Bernabeu – having already met manager Zinedine Zidane as a youngster.
“After that experience at Chelsea, I was begging my parents to let me leave Bondy and go away to a big club,” explained Mbappe.
“But you have to understand my mother and father. They wanted me to stay at home so that I could be a child and live a normal life. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was actually the best thing for me, because I learned a lot of hard lessons that I would have never learned in a bubble at an academy.
“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 organising everything with the club so that they could take me to Madrid as a present.
“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.”
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