‘Speak now!’: Spain’s Lamine Yamal, 16, hits back at France’s Adrien Rabiot over criticism

'Speak now!': Spain's Lamine Yamal, 16, hits back at France's Adrien Rabiot over criticism
Lamine Yama curled an unstoppable 25-yard equaliser in Spain's semi-final win over France - Getty Images/Stefan Matzke

Spain wonderkid Lamine Yamal delivered a two-word rebuke to France midfielder Adrien Rabiot after leading his country into the European Championship final.

Already the youngest footballer to play at a Euros or World Cup, Yamal became the youngest scorer at either tournament with arguably the best goal of Euro 2024 in Tuesday night’s semi-final in Munich.

With Spain 1-0 down, Yamal curled an unstoppable 25-yard shot in off the post after cutting inside a bamboozled Rabiot, who had attempted to unsettle the 16-year-old during a press conference before the game.

After his goal helped Spain fight back to win 2-1 courtesy of Dani Olmo’s winner, Yamal looked straight down the lens of a TV camera at full-time before saying: “Speak now. Speak now.”

Talking to reporters on Monday, Rabiot had said: “We saw that he was a player who knew how to handle pressure very well. He has a lot of qualities. He is capable of playing with his qualities at club level as well as in major tournaments, without pressure.

“Afterwards, it is always complicated to manage a semi-final in a tournament like that. But it will be up to us to put the pressure on him above all, not to let him feel comfortable and to show him that, to play in a Euro final, he will have to do much more than what he has done so far.”

Yamal, who had already registered three assists at the Euros up to that point, responded by writing on Instagram: “Move in silence. Only speak when it’s time to say checkmate.”

Asked who “Speak now” had been directed at after being named man of the match on Tuesday, Yamal replied: “The person I am talking about, this person will know who this person is.”

He added of Rabiot’s comments: “Rabiot’s words? There’s no need to give importance to that.”

Lineker: ‘The best 16-year-old I’ve ever seen’

The performances in Germany of Yamal, who will turn 17 on the eve of Sunday’s final, prompted Gary Lineker to brand him “the best 16-year-old I’ve ever seen”.

Hailing him as better at the same age than Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, the BBC Match of the Day host said on his The Rest is Football podcast: “Boy, oh boy, no one’s ever done this stuff. Even Messi was later.

“I’m not saying he’s going to be a Messi or Maradona. But he could be. To do what he’s doing at this age, and he’s so calm, and his decision-making, and his skills, and the goal, no one’s ever done that.

“Pele, in the World Cup final, scored two goals in a World Cup final, but he was 17, nearly 18. This kid’s 16, nearly 17.”

He added: “I just can’t get my head around his intelligence in terms of football and the fact that he’s still at school. It’s just, like, mind-blowing.

“It’s staggering, mind-blowing, stunning, incredible, crazy, but it’s beautiful. And it’s lovely to see a fresh talent emerging, isn’t it?”

Hailing Yamal’s goal, Spain manager Luis de la Fuente said: “We saw a touch of genius.”

He added: “We all need to take care of him. I would like him to work with the same humility and keep his feet on the ground, to keep learning.

“He looks like a much more experienced player to be honest. I celebrate that he is in our team, that he is Spanish.

“We count on him and hopefully we can enjoy him for years to come.”

The records Yamal has broken at Euro 2024