Kylian Mbappe says facing Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2024 will be 'an honour'


Kylian Mbappe says it will be “an honour” to play against Cristiano Ronaldo when the pair face off in the European Championship quarter-finals.

Mbappe, 25, said he and Ronaldo, 39, keep in touch with one another, with the Portugal captain regularly offering him advice.

France face Portugal in Hamburg on Friday, marking the first time Mbappe and Ronaldo have met in a competitive fixture since the group stages of Euro 2020, a game which saw Ronaldo score twice in a 2-2 draw to equal the men’s all-time international goalscoring record.

On the prospect of Friday’s meeting being the last time the pair face one another, Mbappe said: “It’s an honour. It’s the admiration I’ve always had for Cristiano, for the player. Over time, I’ve had the chance to get to know him and talk to him many times. We’re still in touch. He’s always trying to give me advice and keep up to date with what’s going on.

“It’s a pleasure. Playing against him is an honour for everything he’s done in football. No matter what happened before or what happens after, he’ll always be a legend of the game. But of course we hope to win tomorrow and reach the semi-finals.”

Mbappe has long been regarded as the successor to Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as football’s global star. His long-anticipated move to Real Madrid was confirmed in June, a transfer that sees him follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps to the Bernabeu.

The Portugal forward scored 450 goals in 438 appearances in all competitions during his nine years at Madrid, winning two La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and collecting four of his five Ballon d’Ors.

Mbappe said what Ronaldo achieved at Madrid was “unique”, adding he was not moving to the club to “write the rest of Cristiano’s story”.

Asked if Friday’s fixture was a handover between Ronaldo and Mbappe, the France captain replied: “No, not at all. As I said, he’s unique. There’s only one. There will only be one. I just followed my path.

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“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start living my dream as a player in Madrid. I hope I’ll write a great story there, but I’m certainly not going there to write the rest of Cristiano’s story.

“What he did in Madrid is unique and I hope to do something unique in Madrid too. It will be completely different, but I can only have praise for a player of his calibre.”

Mbappe has scored once in three appearances at Euro 2024, after missing the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands due to a broken nose suffered in the group stage opener.

He admitted he was not yet feeling at his physical peak.

“I don’t think I’ve got all my legs back because I think I need a good preparation,” he added. “I’ve never been a player who makes excuses, so it won’t be an excuse tomorrow. But I think that to really be at 100 per cent, to be really explosive, really quick, I need good physical preparation, which I’ll have with my club in the next few weeks, and I’m sure I’ll get better.

“But right now we’re preparing for a quarter-final and I’m ready to give everything tomorrow to help my team win and reach the semi-final. I’m sure we can be European champions, we have this opportunity and I want to seize it with the guys.”

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(Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)



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