Kylian Mbappe's Predecessors: Teenage strikers who started careers sensationally

Monaco forward has been crucial in Ligue 1 and the Champions League

Monaco, Kylian Mbappe

Monaco's Kylian Mbappe during the Final of the French League Cup soccer match, PSG vs Monaco in Parc OL, Decines-Lyon, France on April 1st, 2017. PSG won 4-1. Szwarc Henri/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

A few months ago, whispers began to stir around a so-called "new Thierry Henry".

Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe was just starting to make waves at the club that the Arsenal legend first made his name and given some of the similarities in the way they play the game, the spotlight was firmly placed on the youngster.

In terms of his development, this season is the first full campaign at senior level for the 18 year old, having made just over a dozen appearances for Monaco last season.

And there are no doubts that he is ready for this level. Such is his development that Mbappe is already capped by France, having featured against Luxembourg and Spain last month.

Goals and assists have been arriving in spades for the promising youngster with his goal and assist tally of 12 and eight respectively helping Monaco within reach of pipping perennial favourites Paris Saint Germain to the Ligue 1 title. There is still a long way to go in the French season though.

But Europe is often the test of talent at the elite level and Monaco would not be in their first Champions League semi final in 13 years without Mbappe's goals. The pacey forward scored three times over two legs in the quarter finals against Borussia Dortmund (although the German side were affected by the attack on their team bus ahead of the first leg) and his Champions League tally for the season is now up to five goals.

It's been an exciting start to his career and although football remains unpredictable, his promise is rich.

But how often has a young striker started their careers in such awe-inspiring fashion?


Not Cristiano Ronaldo who also had a memorable Champions League quarter final stage. The Portuguese Ronaldo, along with erstwhile rival Lionel Messi, has become one of the greatest goalscorers the game has ever seen.

But he was not particularly prolific earlier in his career, when much of his work was focused on trickery down the flank.

It was the original Ronaldo though who really captured the imagination in the pre-Messi-Cristiano era.

The Brazilian who would score twice in the 2002 World Cup final would surely be remembered even more than he is now if it wasn't for knee injuries that hampered his peak years.

But even so, he still achieved plenty for Brazil and scored goals wherever he went from Inter Milan to Real Madrid.

His early beginnings in Brazil were truly sensational. Pacey and powerful, Ronaldo started out at Cruzeiro as a 16 year old and in 1993, he began by plundering 12 goals in 14 games - pretty much a goal a game as a teenager.

Such was his promise, he was quickly capped by Brazil and included in their 1994 World Cup winning squad and took his magnetism to goals into his career in Europe as he smashed in 42 Dutch league goals in his 46 games with PSV and then 34 in 37 games for Barcelona.

Start as you mean to go on!

Ronaldo as he charges forward during the 1998 World Cup group A game against Morocco ©INPHO/Getty

Gerd Muller 

The Germany and Bayern Munich legend is arguably the greatest pure goalscorer the game has ever seen.

A true fox in the box, he would score the winner for West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final and was crucial to his country's hopes two years earlier in Euro 72.

His goalscoring form was replicated at club level for Bayern Munich, who he joined in 1964 from TSV 1861 Nördlingen.

He simply knew where the goal was and made sure his efforts, off both feet and his head and other parts of his body, got the ball over the line.

It's hard to put into words what he did for his one and only season with Nordlingen when he was still in his teens, so simply stating the pure facts can sum it up.

In just over 30 games during the 1963-64 season, Muller plundered 51 goals. Fifty one!!!


The greatest footballer of all time according to many, he would make his mark at the 1958 World Cup as a 17 year old, scoring twice in the final with some truly classy finishes.

But what got him on the plane to Sweden in the first place was the form he was showing as a youngster in Brazil.

The 1957 domestic season saw the then 16 year old finish his debut campaign as league club top scorer with 36 goals, before making that 58 the following season.

1957 also saw him called up to the Brazil squad, taking his career onto the world stage at a tender age.

Uwe Seeler

A West Germany legend, who was a contemporary of Gerd Muller for a time in the 1960s and early '70s, the former SV Hamburg forward scored over 400 goals at club level during his career and was part of the German side that lost to England in the 1966 World Cup final. 

The 80 year old piled up a good early chunk of that 400-odd goal mark in his debut season in 1954-55 as an 18 year old when he scored 28 goals in 30 games in the old Oberliga Nord, before maintaining an excellent record throughout his career and even lining out for Ireland's Cork Celtic.

Michael Owen

The former England striker became Liverpool's youngest ever goalscorer towards the end of the 1996-97 season in a match against Wimbledon - a record since broken by Ben Woodburn.

However, that campaign would only be a brief introduction to senior football, with his first full season coming the following campaign.

It would prove unforgettable. Eighteen league goals would follow during the 1997-98 campaign, with a rate of a goal in every two games at a time when he had yet to be affected by injury problems.

And as we all remember he capped it off with a summer at the World Cup when he scored twice for England, including that famous solo goal against Argentina in the last 16 in a classic fixture.

He announced himself on the global stage that night before repeating his 18 goal haul in the Premier League again during the 1998-99 season for Liverpool. 

Robbie Keane 

Albeit Robbie Keane started out in the old First Division for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1997-98 but for a 17 year old to score 11 times in his debut season, it's still an outstanding achievement. That included a brace on his debut against Norwich.

Indeed he hit double figures in his first three full seasons as a professional, form he would later carry into an international career of 68 goals.

Such was the esteem he was held, Inter Milan identified him as one of the best young players in Europe when they signed him in 2000.

While his club career did not match his international one as it progressed, his goal return remained healthy throughout his long and distinguished time in the Premier League and MLS.