By Florence Mafomemeh
French Soccer Sensation and international superstar Kylian Mbappe is playing for the French national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. However, he also had the choice to play for either Cameroon or Algeria but chose France, his nation of birth.
Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, who is originally from Cameroon, is his agent as well as a football coach, while his mother, Fayza Lamari, is of Algerian Kabyle origin and a former handball player.
Reports have surfaced that the striker had made efforts to play for his fatherland, Cameroon but corrupt practices and shortsightedness of Cameroon’s government officials forced him to dump the Indomitable Lions and play for Les Bleus (The Blues). According to Sports Brief, Mbappe’s father disclosed how a member of the Cameroon Football Federation asked for money from his son thus forcing him to play for Les Blues rather than Cameroon.
“At first, I wanted my son to play for Cameroon but, someone at the Cameroon Football Federation charged a sum of money that I didn’t have to make him play. The French didn’t charge anything,” Wilfred Mbappe said.
Even soccer legend Samuel Eto’o, now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation and an advocate for nurturing of African talent from Africa as opposed to calling up players from the diaspora, had made some shocking remarks about Mbappe that justified his decision to turn his back on Cameroon.
“Africans have a lot of talent, Europeans a little less. But the Europeans have understood something: training. Training is the magic of all success,” the former soccer superstar had said at the time.
After opting to play for France, the 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker sent touching messages to Cameroon and Algeria Fans saying that Cameroon and Algeria are part of him as they are his true origin and he can never deny it. He once stated that even though he is not representing either Cameroon or Algeria, he will continue to support them.
“Cameroon and Algeria are a part of me. I support them both. My nationality is French, but my origins are Algerian and Cameroonian. I cannot deny my origins and I am very happy,” the next best player in the world said.
The now forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain who is considered one of the best players in the world, and renowned for his dribbling abilities, exceptional speed, and finishing, made his senior debut for France in 2017. Before that he represented them at under-17 and under-19 levels. At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Mbappé became the youngest French player to score at a World Cup, and also became the second teenager, after Pelé, to score in a World Cup Final. Considered France’s L’enfant terrible, the 23-year-old soccer star is France’s most talented soccer player and was part of France’s World cup winning team of 2018.
He finished as the joint second-highest goalscorer as France won the tournament. He also received the Best Young Player and French Player of the Year awards for his performances. In 2018 Mbappe became the most expensive teenage footballer when PSG signed him for €180 million.
Now a World Cup winner with France and one of the best players in the world, Mbappe, not playing for Cameroon is a big loss for the Indomitable Lions. However, he is proud of his African roots and said that the development of African sports is important to him because of his parents’ African origins.
Mbappe has a younger brother, Ethan who played for PSG’s under-12 squad in 2018 and an adoptive brother, Jires Kemba Ekoko also a professional football player.
The shortsightedness, incompetence and corrupt nature of government officials has caused Africa to lose its best athletes to western nations. However, their successes make Africa proud.
By Florence Mafomemeh
Black Nation News