"Birth of a star"

Stroke of genius! Yamal even left Pele behind

10.07.2024 12:09

Luis de la Fuente was delighted with the "stroke of genius", international observers such as England's Gary Lineker described it as "the birth of a superstar". Lamine Yamal has finally immortalized himself in the history books with his magical goal in Spain's semi-final victory over France at the European Football Championship. The teenager was already the youngest player to score at a European Championship final, and now, at 16 years and 362 days old, he is also the youngest goalscorer in the history of Europe's continental tournament.

The day before the final on Sunday, Lamine Yamal Nasraoui Ebana, the full name of the son of an expatriate from Equatorial Guinea and a Moroccan, who was born near Barcelona, turns 17. He had no special wish, he said after the 2:1 win against the runners-up on Tuesday evening in Munich. "Just win, win, win," said the FC Barcelona super talent. "My goal was to celebrate my birthday here in Germany," said the winger.

He was certainly pleased to have scored his first goal of the tournament in the semi-final of all places, said Yamal, who was of course also named player of the match. His mother was also delighted. "My mother always said that it was also her dream for me to score a goal at the European Championships." And it was well worth seeing. With his strong left foot, the attacker lined up the ball 20 meters in front of the goal, hit a shot into the corner of the net and made TV pundits around the world rejoice.

Team with 26 "soccer geniuses"
Even the deeply disappointed Didier Deschamps smiled briefly when asked about the goal. "It was a wonderful shot. Really wonderful," said the French national coach. His players had given Yamal too much space, but the shot was also perfect. De la Fuente was almost overwhelmed by the hype surrounding his protégé. "I would like to give him some advice: I want him to continue to be humble and keep both feet on the ground and keep wanting to improve," said Spain's head coach. He has a team of 26 "soccer geniuses", he said, referring to the entire European Championship squad.

Luis de la Fuente is jubilant. (Bild: AFP)
Luis de la Fuente is jubilant.

Yamal replaced Switzerland's Johan Vonlanthen as the youngest European Championship goalscorer, who was 18 years and 141 days old when he scored in 2004. He also overtook Brazil legend Pele, who scored his first goal at the finals as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Yamal was asked whether he was now an idol of this European Championship. "I don't really think about that. It doesn't help on the pitch either. I try to help the team," he explained. "And if it works out like today, all the better."

Duel with Rabiot
He also had a message ready. "Speak now," Yamal shouted into the camera after the final whistle. France midfielder Adrien Rabiot had remarked before the semi-final that the young star would have to improve in order to play in the final. The Spaniard did not want to confirm that he was referring to Rabiot. The person himself knows exactly, he only said meaningfully.

One billion euros
Yamal scored his first goal for Spain on his debut for "La Roja" last September in a 7-1 win over Georgia at the age of 16 years and 57 days. After his third goal in the national jersey, his market value will have risen once again. According to media reports, Paris Saint-Germain have already offered 250 million euros, but Barcelona have refused. His contract with the Catalans runs until 2026 and the buy-out clause is said to be one billion euros.

Comparisons with Messi
The La Masia pupil has already played 51 games (7 goals) for the club at a young age. He joined Barcelona at the age of seven after his talent was noticed while playing in parks in the socially disadvantaged suburb of Rocafonda. The comparison with Lionel Messi is obvious. According to reports, the Argentinian himself marveled at the skills of his successor on the right flank. "How easy does Lamine make it all look?" Messi reportedly wrote to acquaintances. Yamal himself does not want to draw comparisons. "There will never be another like Messi," he once emphasized.

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