PARIS – Football legend Pele told Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday that he believes the French World Cup winner can emulate his own achievement of scoring 1,000 career goals.
The 78-year-old Brazilian claims to have netted over 1,000 goals in his career, while Mbappe has so far managed 103 in total, with 92 of those coming at the top level.
“It’s possible, I scored exactly 1,025, so 1,000 goals is possible for him,” Pele told AFP in Paris, where he met Mbappe at a sponsor event for Hublot watches.
Mbappe, who last year became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final after Pele in France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia, played down Pele’s comments.
“I think that even if we count the goals on inter-city pitches and goals on the PlayStation, I won’t be able to reach the 1,000-goal mark,” said the 20-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward.
"We will try to get as close as we can, but I think I’ll be a long way off it at the end of my career.”
Mbappe has scored 32 goals in all competitions for PSG this season, including 27 from only 24 Ligue 1 appearances.
Pele was only 21 when he won his second World Cup in 1962, adding a third eight years later.
“There’s only one ‘King’ and he’s there,” said Mbappe. “I’m just Kylian, I’m trying to do my best to help my team and my national side.
“The comparisons are flattering but I know very well that I will never do what he did.”
‘I just want to help PSG and France’
It was not the first time that Mbappe has had to temper comparisons with Pele, after a rush to crown him a future footballing great during the World Cup in Russia, where he scored four goals in total.
But the former Monaco striker insists that he is not focused on becoming the best player of modern times.
“When Pele was playing, he didn’t think he wanted to be the best player in history, he wanted to have fun, help his country and his club, which he did,” he said.
“What I want is to help PSG, the France team and afterwards it will be other people who tell you that you are the best.
“Everyone says that he is the best, but if you are (the best), there’s no need to say it. It’s not a goal for me.”
Pele spent the majority of his career at Santos in his home country, bar a spell in the United States with the New York Cosmos shortly before his retirement.
He told Mbappe, who has been repeatedly linked with a move away from PSG, that the key to smashing goalscoring records is playing in the very best teams.
“People tend to say that goals are the most important thing – I thank God for having scored so many in my career – but we must know that we need to be well-supported, you can’t score on your own, you need good teammates, that’s very important.”
Mbappe and his Paris teammates have only the French Cup left to fight for this season, with the Ligue 1 title all but secured and their Champions League campaign over after a humiliating defeat by Manchester United.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)