Yesterday’s exhilarating 4-3 thriller between France and Argentina displayed many of the great aspects of the beautiful game.
Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score at least two goals in a World Cup match, sending Lionel Messi home in the process. Paul Pogba also had a fine contribution to make to France’s victory in Kazan, even with Les Bleus falling behind twice.
The RTÉ studio understandably waxed lyrical about the game in it’s aftermath, with Mbappe singled out for particular praise from the likes of Didi Hamann and Richard Dunne.
The ever controversial Eamon Dunphy led the chorus, believing that the 19-year-old could be a future great.
“It’s the nature of the game from Pele to Puskas, through all the great players in the game,” he said in regards to generations of greats passing the torch.
“He is the sight that will make kids want to play the game and it makes us old professionals feel happy to see somebody like that.”
Dunphy’s happiness at seeing the forward’s performance is motivated by a belief that his teammate is symptomatic of the dying of the game itself, however.
“It’s important that we keep seeing them, because I think football is dying. The lack of talent at this World Cup is noticeable.”
“He [Mbappe] is a modest and sensible person, in contrast, I would say, to Pogba. All that messing around, what Frank Lampard called the ‘YouTube footballer’. This fella is different; he’s professional, he’s a human being.
“He has a real good temperament, in contrast to Neymar and Pogba, who are the other kind of people being talked about. He’s not dying his hair or flying on private jets.”