REAL MADRID

Why is Kylian Mbappé nicknamed Donatello?

Kylian Mbappé gained a new nickname not long after he signed for PSG from Monaco - one which was quickly adopted by his team mates.

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Why is Kylian Mbappé nicknamed Donatello?
FRANCK FIFE AFP

Most football players have gained nicknames over the years - for the most part it's a term of endearment, monikers which might describe qualities, traits or physical features. Some players have had their nicknames since childhood, perhaps from playing football with their mates in the park or in school. Sometimes nicknames come later in a player’s life, they might be given by a team mate or occasionally by a journalist in a newspaper article. For one reason or another they tend to stick.

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There have been some notable ones over the years - O Rei (Pelé), The Blond Arrow (Di Stéfano), Bam Bam (Iván Zamorano)... During his playing days, United manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer was referred to as The Baby-faced Assassin while Liverpool fans, for whom football is almost a religion in itself, found God - in mercurial striker, Robbie Fowler. For Chelsea fans, club captain César Azpilicueta’s long-winded Basque surname is a bit of a mouthful, so they simply refer to him as Dave.

Dressing room banter

Mbappé, who sooner or later will be joining Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, only gained his nickname relatively recently. The 22-year-old French forward is known as Donatello for his likeness to the laid-back, nerdy member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - the ninja with an inventive mind. Mbappé’s resemblance to Donatello was first noted by his PSG team mate Presnel Kimpembe not long after he joined the club from Monaco in 2017. The nickname was soon embraced by the rest of the dressing room and Mbappé took it all in good humour.

A number of his team mates have ribbed him on social media; Dani Alves and Neymar both posted pictures of the Ninja Turtle lookalike with references to the superhero comic series while Thiago Silva surprised him with a present after a game not long after he joined PSG - a plastic Ninja Turtle mask delicately gift-wrapped in a Dior box.