Mbappe and De Bruyne step up to lead countries into new championship cycle

March 21 – On the eve of a new international cycle, stars France’s Kylian Mbappe and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne have been named as captains of their countries. 

Mbappe will take over from Hugo Lloris, who retired from the international game following the global finals in Qatar.

“Didier Deschamps has named Kylian Mbappe the new captain of Les Bleus. Antoine Griezmann if the vice-captain,” the French Football Federation said on Twitter.

“Kylian meets all the requirements to have this responsibility,” said coach Didier Deschamps. “On the field as in the life of the group, by being a unifying element.”

In 2018, Mbappe stormed on to the world stage leading France to their second world title. Four years later, he guided France to the final again, and, while scoring a hattrick in the showpiece match, it was not enough to win the crown again. The PSG star has been capped 66 times.

On Friday, France face the Netherlands in their first match of the Euro 2024 qualifiers before travelling to Dublin to face Ireland.

North of the French border, De Bruyne succeeds Eden Hazard, who retired from international football after Belgium failed to get past the group stage at last year’s World Cup, as the country’s captain. In the last few years, Hazard had become a peripheral figure in the team, hamstrung by constant injuries.

“A proud moment,” said De Bruyne. “I have been here for a long time, but to represent my country this way is a huge honour. Hopefully, I can serve well.”

De Bruyne has worn the captain’s armband six times before, including at the last World Cup against Croatia, and will lead Belgium on Friday in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden, the debut of new manager Domenico Tedesco, who succeeds Roberto Martinez. Next week, the Belgians will face the 2024 hosts Germany in a friendly.

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