Kylian Mbappe was disappointed to finish on the losing side as Argentina thrashed France on penalties in the World Cup final, but the 23-year-old showed on Sunday why he should be compare with Pele.
The French international scored only the second hat-trick in World Cup final history but his effors to become the youngest two-time winner since Pele in 1962 ended in heartbreak in Qatar.
Mbappe, who turns 24 on Tuesday, is just the second man to score in back-to-back World Cup finals, and finished as the tournament’s Golden Boot winner with eight goals.
Reduced to the role of a passenger for much of the game, Mbappe burst into life 10 minutes from time with two goals in the space of 97 seconds to bring the reigning champions back from the dead.
A peripheral figure as Argentina swept 2-0 ahead, Mbappe buried a penalty past Emiliano Martinez and then equalised soon after with a sublime first-time volley low into the corner following a brilliant exchange with Marcus Thuram.
Just when it looked all over for France as Lionel Messi struck again in extra time, Mbappe nervelessly smacked home his second spot-kick – joining England’s 1966 star Geoff Hurst as the only other man to score three times in a World Cup final.
And while it was Messi who gleefully hoisted the World Cup trophy – eight years after the bitter pain of losing the final in Brazil – Mbappe is erasing any doubts as to who will succeed him and Cristiano Ronaldo as football’s new superstar.
He is already up to sixth on France’s list of all-time top scorers with 36 goals, one behind Karim Benzema – the Ballon d’Or winner whose absence in Qatar was mitigated by the brilliance of Mbappe.