26 January 2020

How about creating some history?

Kylian Mbappé Lottin, 21, the best young football players and clearly among the best in the world according to some, already has an excellent reputation for finishing, dribbling and speed. Mbappé plays for Paris Saint-Germain and of course for France. 

He's young. He has dreams. Specifically, ‘the treble of the Champions League, European Championship and the Olympic Games.’ That would not be bad, he adds in a classic understatement. He’s realistic, though. He admits that it appears unattainable but insists ‘I am going to make sure that I fulfill this dream.’

Mbappé said all this in the course of an interview with BBC where he spoke about his career, how far he’s come, where he is and of course Liverpool: ‘What Liverpool do in this moment is amazing. They’re like a machine, they’ve found a rhythm and are like “we play again, we play again.”’ 

It’s true. Liverpool is excellently positioned to secure the club’s first Premier League title since 1990. Mbappé captures the performance well: ‘They’ve lost zero games. When you watch you think everything’s easy, but that’s not easy. The guys are focused, they play games every three days and they win, they win, they win.’

He might as well have been talking about himself. It seems easy but it is not. He’s focused. On what’s important, one might add. And that’s what this is all about. Speaking about PSG, Mbappé acknowledged that it is a young club: we do not have the history of the other clubs, but we want to create the history.’

The desire to make history. That’s important. Especially when you’ve got to do it more or less from scratch. Legends don’t fall from the sky. They are not the creations of extraordinary good fortune. They are produced by hard work; long years of toil that go unnoticed. 

Mbappé joined PSG before he was named the best young player in 2018, the year he helped France win the World Cup. Today the big name clubs are watching him. He’s valuable. If they could they would try to recruit him. But for now, he wants to help his club to win a third straight French title. He’s going about the business of making history. 

History is made, but as Karl Marx pointed out, it’s not made in the circumstances of our choice. Had that been the case this world would not be what it is. It would be like having a card with unlimited credit to order whatever you want from whatever restaurant you like. 

Mbappé has a dream. That kind of frames his life. And yet, it is all about being like Liverpool (this season). You have to turn up for the game. You have to give it your all. Do the little things. Do the hard things. Do what is necessary. The result? Well, they take care of themselves. If you spend time envisioning your celebratory dance after scoring a spectacular goal, the chances are someone’s going to steal the ball from you. If you can’t get over a goal that you could have prevented but didn’t, well then you might concede another one. 

History. It comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. A league title. Excellent results at an examination. Turning barren piece of land into an orchard. Noticing things that you’ve allowed your gaze to pass over, again and again. Little things. Big things. Some that will be recognized by all and some no one will ever notice or, if notice, will not associate with you. The result of individual striving. A collective drive. 

Who turned Liverpool into a legendary team? How is it that in Sri Lanka, a country that’s not on the Basketball Map of the World, there are people who know of the Lakers and Celtics? Someone or some people, some day or over a long period of time, worked hard. They made history. They played again, they played again, they won, they won, they won. They were Mbappés, in other words.

This article was first published in the DAILY NEWS [January 24, 2020]

Other articles in the series 'In Passing...': 
[published in the 'Daily News' on Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week]