Since firing France to Under-19 glory last summer, Kylian Mbappé has taken Europe by storm; now a title-winner with Monaco, he looks back on his time in Germany.
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France may not be back to defend their trophy this summer, but the impact of last year's triumph is still being felt. Just ask Kylian Mbappé – a teenager just starting out on his career when he travelled to Germany with the French squad last July, now a full international and UEFA Champions League sensation.
Mbappé formed a deadly partnership with Jean-Kévin Augustin at the 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, with the pair scoring 11 goals between them to propel France to a third title. Mbappé, who scored five of those, has hardly paused for breath since in a breakthrough campaign with Monaco in the UEFA Champions League and Ligue 1.
"It was my first international competition," says Mbappé. "It was very important for me because I was representing my country, which is priceless. You show your love for your country. And as we won the tournament, we were really proud. We had a great group with a lot of ability, and I think we deserved to win."
Few would doubt that after France's 4-0 success against Italy in the final, a record winning margin. If that was cause for celebration, there was further reason to cheer in March when Mbappé picked up his first senior cap against Spain.
Memorable too was the 18-year-old's six-goal haul in the UEFA Champions League that fired Monaco to the verge of the final. For France, in particular, the U19 EURO has long been a stepping stone to the top, with some of the nation's brightest young talents having benefited from this springboard to greater things.
Hugo Lloris was a member of the victorious Bleuets side in 2005, while Antoine Griezmann and Lacazette inspired France to the 2010 crown, before a new star was born last summer.
The 2016/17 season has since gone by in a flash for Mbappé, who unsurprisingly has played with a smile on his face throughout. "Coming to training in the morning is a total pleasure," he says. "Time has flown by between the EURO and now. It really has been a brilliant campaign."
This interview appears in the official tournament programme; download your copy here