The masked man: Mbappé set to join list of soccer stars needing to wear a protective masks in games

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Kylian Mbappé is always a marked man.

At the European Championship, he's set to be known as the masked man.

The France superstar broke his nose in his team's opening game of Euro 2024, a 1-0 win over Austria on Monday, and is likely to be fitted with a carbon-fiber mask if he is to play again in the tournament.

He wouldn't be first soccer player needing to wear a mask, as Mbappé himself has pointed out.

The Associated Press looks at some others who have used this type of protective equipment on a soccer field:

Son Heung-min (South Korea)

Son broke his eye socket while playing for Tottenham in the Champions League about three weeks before the 2022 World Cup and required surgery, meaning he had to don a mask for South Korea's games in Qatar. “It’s more comfortable than I was expecting,” Son said about the mask at the time. "Although it does feel different from when I tried it on in the U.K. because of the weather. I think it was more comfortable there because I sweat more here due to the heat. I kept touching my mask during training to adjust it. I am still getting used to it but I was surprised at how comfortable it was.” Son said the mask was lighter than he expected.

Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)

Son wasn't the only masked player at that World Cup. Gvardiol, the Croatia center back, had to wear one after suffering a broken nose when he clashed heads with then-Leipzig teammate Willi Orban in a German league match. Doctors decided that he could play for Croatia as long as he had a mask on. He was one of the best defenders at the World Cup — apart from when he came up against Lionel Messi in the semifinal against Argentina.

Paul Gascoigne (England)

Gazza, as he was fondly known, needed face protection after being on the receiving end of an elbow from Netherlands midfielder Jan Wouters at Wembley Stadium in 1993. It broke his cheekbone and, invariably, the carbon-fiber protector he donned was nicknamed the “Gazz-mask." He wore it for games for Lazio in the Italian league and for the first time for England against Poland in a World Cup qualifier in Chorzow.

Antonio Rudiger (Germany)

Rudiger wore a face mask at Euro 2020 after receiving a blow to the face while playing for Chelsea, his club at the time, against Real Madrid, the Spanish team where he now plays. That happened in April and he wore the mask for the remainder of the season for Chelsea and then at the Euros — perhaps a sign of how long Mbappé might be needing to use one.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (former Barcelona player)

Aubameyang was playing for Barcelona in the second half of the 2021-22 season when his home was burglarized, while he and his family were inside. The attackers broke Aubameyang's jaw, leading to him wearing a personalized protective mask when he joined Chelsea for the following season.


AP Euro 2024:

Steve Douglas, The Associated Press