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Kylian Mbappe praises idol Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of France-Portugal clash

Before their perhaps final match of the season, Kylian Mbappe paid a heartfelt tribute to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mbappe acknowledges that his long-standing desire to play for Real Madrid is mostly due to his admiration for Ronaldo, who he grew up idolizing while growing up in Paris and having posters of him all over his walls.

He will finalize his eagerly awaited transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to the Bernabeu Stadium this year, solidifying the idea that the best football players in Europe are passing the baton between two generations.

But first, he must defeat his hero in order to lead France in the pursuit of yet another European crown.

‘There will never be another Cristiano Ronaldo,’ said Kylian Mbappe. ‘He has shaped football, inspired generations, scored goals and won cups. He has known how to reinvent himself. He is one of a kind.

‘Me, I am following my own path. My dream to play for Real Madrid is becoming reality. I hope to make my mark on football and be one of a kind at Real Madrid, but I am not writing the next chapter of his story.

‘I have total respect for him. I can only sing his praises. Over time I’ve been lucky to brush shoulders with him, meet him and get to know him. We are still in contact. He keeps up with my life, gives me tips.

‘Playing against him is always an honour. Regardless of what happens after he will be a football legend. Of course, we hope he is not so happy, and we are going to reach the semi-final.’

The last time they played, in a 2-2 draw in the 2021 Euro group stage, Ronaldo scored two penalties, making history as the first player to score in five Euros.

After over a year of playing club football for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, at the age of 39, he appears to be keen to break that record and score in his sixth game.

Despite starting all four of Portugal’s games, he is struggling in front of goal. On Monday, against Slovenia, he saw a penalty saved by Jan Oblak in the first half of extra time. He broke down in tears, but he eventually composed himself to score in a penalty shootout.

However, Ronaldo will always be viewed as a danger.

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