Kylian Mbappe: World Cup hero for France and king of the chateau

World Cup star Kylian Mbappe appearing for Paris St Germain in November

Every year more than 1,000 of the most gifted young boys and girls in France trial for one of 23 coveted places at the Clairefontaine academy. Many of the modern greats of French football were schooled here, such as Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry, and the country’s record goalscorers Olivier Giroud and Eugenie Le Sommer.

Clairefontaine is nestled in dense forest an hour outside Paris, where lush pitches and smart dormitories surround an imposing chateau used by the French senior national teams. It is also a kind of bait: the young players who aspire to become professionals one day are forbidden from stepping inside the castle until they have made the grade.

For those who saw Kylian Mbappe grace the grass of Clairefontaine, his success was never in doubt. He arrived in the class of 2011 and the 13-year-old Mbappe was bestowed with the title Le Crack, meaning the best, the champion, the outstanding talent of his peer group.

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