Socceroo Nathaniel Atkinson gives himself a brutal critique after nightmare outing marking superstar Kylian Mbappe: ‘There’s a reason he’s on $200million and I’m not’
Nathaniel Atkinson has vowed not to be haunted by his World Cup dream which turned into a nightmare.
‘It’s an eye-opener,’ Atkinson – who Daily Mail Australia gave a player rating of 3/10 – told reporters after being torched by the flashy Frenchman.
‘There’s a reason why he’s earning $200million a year and I am where I am.’
Atkinson, valued at around $1million, joined Scotland’s Heart of Midlothian from A-League club Melbourne City this year.
And he admits he has joined a long list of players around the globe to be exposed by Paris Saint-Germain superstar Mbappe.
Nathaniel Atkinson found French superstar Kylian Mbappe too much to handle in the Socceroos’ World Cup opener
The Tasmanian raised defender told reporters ‘there’s a reason why he’s earning $200million a year and I am where I am’ in a brutal assessment of his own performance
Atkinson coughed up possession with a poor touch which led to France’s second goal in their 4-1 rout of the Socceroos.
‘I have played that scenario 50 times over and I could probably come up with 50 different solutions,’ he said.
‘But that’s football. I am disappointed. I take full responsibility for the second goal.
‘And it’s time to move on from that, because I have got a game in three days to fix it.’
Mbappe scored one goal, set up another and had seven shots against the Socceroos.
He also had 19 touches in Australia’s box – the highest by an individual player at a World Cup in 52 years.
‘It’s just the physicality of the guy,’ Atkinson said.
‘The pace – it’s not hidden how quick that guy is. Give him one step and he’s gone.
‘As a team, you can always come up with a plan but sometimes if it’s one v one, he gets the better of you.
‘There’s a reason why he’s in the top three players in the world.
‘But I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I want to verse the top players in the world.’
Atkinson entered Australia’s dressing room downcast, but the Socceroos’ senior core instantly lifted his spirits.
Mbappe scored a goal in the second half and his pace proved too much for Australia
Atkinson has vowed to improve, with Australia’s next game on November 26 versus Tunisia from 9pm (AEDT)
‘When I got into the change room, my head was down,’ he said.
‘But the first people that came up to me were the experienced players who talked about their experiences.
‘And they said the beauty is, in three days time we have got another game.
‘The beauty of the tournament is you can’t dwell on it because we have got another game to fix it in three days.’
Australia next play Tunisia on Saturday (9pm AEDT).