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Why is Mbappé's nickname Donatello?

Kylian Mbappé's nickname dates back to his early days at PSG on loan from Monaco in 2017. Needless to say, it was quickly taken up by his team mates.

Kylian Mbappé's nickname dates back to his early days at PSG on loan from Monaco in 2017.  Needless to say, it was quickly taken up by his team mates.

In football, having a nickname is all part of the game. These terms of endearments, monikers that describe qualities, traits, physical features or likenesses tend to stick. Some have had their nicknames since childhood - gained during casual kick-arounds with their mates in the park or in school. But sometimes nicknames come later on in a player’s life. Occasionally, they might be given by a team mate or by a journalist in a newspaper article. For one reason or another, they usually stick.

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What’s in a nickname?

Footballers’ nicknames have always been popular in South America - especially Mexico and Argentina. Who can forget Cristian Rodríguez: El Cebolla (The Onion), Javier Mascherano: El Jefecito (Little Boss), Chicharito (Little Pea) Ángel Di María: El Fideo (The Noodle), Claudio López: Piojo (Head Louse) and in Spain, the follically-challenged but immensely gifted Ivan de la Peña: El Pequeño Buda (Little Buddah).

There have been some classics over the years - O Rei (Pelé), Saint Iker (Casillas), The Blond Arrow (Di Stéfano), Bam Bam (Iván Zamorano), El Niño (Torres), Carles Puyol (Tarzan)... Ole Gunner Solskjaer, the hero of United’s 1999 Champions League triumph over Bayern was referred to as The Baby-faced Assassin, Atleti boss Diego Simeone is El Cholo. And purely for ease, César Azpilicueta (which incidentally is pronounced Athpillykwetta) was simply referred to as Dave by Chelsea fans, while Louis van Gaal absent-mindedly called Chris Smalling Mike... which stuck.

“Told you guys I was the funniest”

Then there’s Sergio Agüero’s is Kun - a Japanese honorific. During his time at Manchester City, he explained in an interview with the BBC that his grandparents dubbed him Kum-Kum due to his apparent likeness to the central character in 1970s Japanese animated TV series Wanpaku Omukashi Kumu Kumu.

Kylian Mbappé only gained his nickname relatively recently. The 25-year-old French forward is known as Donatello for his likeness to the laid-back, nerdy member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - the keen-witted 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 enthusiastically embraced by the rest of the dressing room and Mbappé himself saw the funny side and took it all in good humour.

A number of his PSG team mates ribbed him on social media over the years - both Dani Alves and Neymar 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.