Kylian Mbappe grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy, France. The 19-year-old soccer prodigy has used the 2018 World Cup to burst onto the international soccer scene. Kylian comes from an athletic family with his father, Wilfried Mbappe, spending many years as a soccer coach, while his mother, Fayza Lamari, is a former handball player. Kylian’s adopted brother, Jires Kembo-Ekoko, is also a professional soccer player.
Bondy is not like many of the suburbs in the United States that are often surrounded by affluence. The New York Times described the challenges of the area where Kylian grew up.
Officially, Bondy is in Île-de-France, the broader Parisian region. To most in France, though, it is in the northern swath of the banlieues, a label that is both a euphemism and a stigma: places with large, working-class, nonwhite communities, synonymous with riots and social strife, thought of as breeding grounds for crime and terrorism. This is the world Mbappé comes from; this is the world he has come to represent.
Kylian’s nationality draws from a mix of countries with Cameroonian and Algerian roots. This has caused France to gain fans in places like Africa thanks to Kylian’s stellar play.
Learn more about the Mbappe family.
1. Kylian Is of Cameroonian & Algerian Descent
According to VOA News, Kylian’s mother is from Algeria, while his father is from Cameroon. Kylian’s Cameroon roots has created a big following for the French national team in Africa. There are 15 players on France with African roots, per VOA News. Cameroon tried to recruit Mbappe to play on the national team, but he chose to play with France. Marcel Leinyuy owns a Cameroon bar, and spoke about Kylian’s following in the area.
“France are performing very well and if you see them qualifying, it is because of Kylian Mbappe,” Marcel told VOA News. “I wish our football federation could have called him to play for us in the national team. When you look at our own national team, you see there is something missing of which Mbappe has.”
2. Kylian’s Father Was a Youth Soccer Coach for AS Bondy
Kylian grew up playing soccer thanks to his father’s involvement as both a player and coach. According to BBC, Kylian’s father, Wilfried, was a youth coach for AS Bondy for 25 years. AS Bondy president Atmane Airouche spoke with BBC about the years of dedication Wilfried gave to the sport.
“He [Kylian] was born into football and sport,” Atmane explained to BBC. “His father was a youth leader, working with children in the local area and then he was brought in to AS Bondy. He only left us three months ago but his imprint will be here forever. He gave 25 years of his life to us. And his mother is also a big influence. She was a very good professional handball player.”
3. Kylian’s Mother Is a Former Handball Player & Is Concerned Over Her Son’s Treatment at PSG
Kylian’s mom, Fayza Lamari, was a top handball player in France. According to El Pais, Fayza and other family members are concerned that Kylian’s PSG teammates have taken jokes too far. The report noted Neymar and Dani Alves often tease Kylian about his appearance, comparing him to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Donatello. El Pais detailed Fayza’s handball career, and her concern about how her son’s PSG teammates are treating him (translated).
Fayza Lamari was a good handball player of the First Division of France. The devotion to a sacrificed game caused a severe idea of sports practice to be formed. In the Paris Saint-Germain environment they point out that his rough character shaped his son, the new star of the French team, Kylian Mbappé.
Fayza, who believes that the basis of team sports are discipline and solidarity, was shocked by the way Neymar led his life and treated his son in the locker room. In the Parisian club they assure that the player’s family perceived from September 2017 that after the jokes that Neymar and Alves dedicated to him there was a form of contempt. They laughed at his features. They warned that it reminded them of Donatello, the mutant of the Ninja Turtles…
The player’s family came to feel uncomfortable. The boy suffered the attitude of his colleagues, struggling to lower him to the category of rookie.
4. Kylian Is Just 19 Years Old, But Many Believe His Parents Are to Be Credited for His Maturity
At 19, Kylian was one of the youngest players to compete at the 2018 World Cup. Those around Kylian describe the soccer player as being mature beyond his years.
“He is a young man who seems to have the maturity of a 40-year-old when he speaks,” Airouche told BBC. “That’s his personality. Generous, respectful and when he comes here he’s always just a boy from Bondy and a boy from ASB…Kylian’s personality – when you see him speaking at 18 but sounding like he’s 30, talking with phenomenal maturity – is because of what his parents gave him. They’re people that always had their hands on their hearts, they helped a lot. Not just their children but the children here at the club, for them it was the same.”
5. Kylian’s Adopted Brother, Jires Kembo-Ekoko, Is a Pro Soccer Player
Kylian has been able to learn how to be a professional from his older adopted brother. Jires is a pro soccer player who has played all over the world. Jires transferred to Bursaspor, who play in the Super Lig, from Al-Nasr. Jires has been impressed with his brother’s play in the World Cup.
“I have lived an extraordinary day in Kazan,” Kembo told Gulf News. “I’m not surprised. He refuses to bow to pressure, always tries his best and takes part in the World Cup with great concentration and wants to do more…Playing against Argentina is not easy at any time, but when he was up against Messi, he played without fear or hesitation, proving he could fight the stars and be among the best as I had predicted.”