France forward Kylian Mbappe has said that he had to hide his back injury from Belgium in the World semifinal — and again against Croatia in the final.
The 19-year-old, who scored four goals and was voted young player of the competition in Russia, hurt three vertebrae in his back when picking his things up to go for a shower and told France Football that it was of great importance that the French squad hid the problem from their opponents to avoid further injury.
“The most important thing was making sure that our opponents did not find out,” Mbappe said. “They could have taken advantage of that and targeted this sensitive area. The players and the staff kept it hidden — even for the final.”
Mbappe was accused of “arrogance” before the World Cup because he was confident that France would triumph in Russia. However, the Paris Saint-Germain player said that it was simply his confidence that he and his teammates would be successful and nothing else.
“Being honest, it was in my mind for some time,” he said. “For me, from the beginning, I was convinced that we had everything that we needed to go all the way.
“I said it before the World Cup started and some saw it as arrogance — it was simply my conviction. I came for the trophy and I left with it — I was programmed to win.”
Meanwhile, Mbappe said he hopes to be in contention for the Ballon d’Or alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Raphael Varane and PSG teammate Neymar.
“I would put Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Raphael Varane… and me,” he said.
He overlooked his compatriot Antoine Griezmann but added that he would “complete” the list with Lionel Messi as “for the football fans, it’s hard to exclude him from the list” even though the Barcelona forward failed to shine in the World Cup.
Mbappe is currently on holiday and is not expected back with PSG until after the Trophee des Champions in Shenzhen, China, at the start of August.