All the talk in the build-up to Bayern Munich’s meeting with Paris St-Germain in the Champions League final was understandably about the superstar forwards on opposing sides.
As it turned out though, it wasn’t Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe or Neymar who was the match-winner, it was ‘The King’ .
Kingsley Coman – a man who has won a league title in all eight seasons as a first-team player – headed the only goal for Bayern to leave him as the only Parisian celebrating in Lisbon.
“This is an extraordinary feeling,” he said. “I feel a lot of joy, but also sadness for Paris. It hurts my heart a bit even though I am 100% Bayern.”
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The 24-year-old was a surprise starter against PSG, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left wing in the only change Hansi Flick made to his Champions League starting XI since football restarted.
“They call him the king around the training ground and he was the king today,” former Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves said on BT Sport.
Coman only had 38 touches of the ball but he caused PSG right-back Thilo Kehrer plenty of problems with a clever nutmeg the highlight of his first-half exploits. His key moment was to come after the break as he became the fifth Frenchman to score in a Champions League final – and the first to do it against a French team.
He got an average rating of 8.09 from BBC Sport website readers as he scored his eighth goal of an injury-hit campaign.
Flick said: “Perhaps he’s finally stepped out of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben’s shadow this season. Kingsley has incredible talent and he showed tonight he can also score goals.”
Serge Gnabry, who played on the opposite wing, said: “He helped us extremely. He came in and one-against-one we knew it would be difficult for the opponent.
“For him to score that goal after being out injured for a couple of games and to come back into the team was incredible.”
There was a symmetry to Coman’s career that his greatest moment came against the club he grew up supporting and where he is still the youngest first-team player (16 years, eight months, four days).
He won two French Ligue 1 titles with a combined 39 minutes on the pitch – making two substitute appearances for PSG across the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
From there he went on to Juve, where he won the 2015-16 Serie A title. He played one league match the next season (not enough to get a medal) before moving to Bayern, where he has won five consecutive Bundesliga titles.
He also has three German ‘Doubles’, one ‘Treble’ and an Italian ‘Double’ in his trophy cabinet. To repeat, he is 24.
“Hansi Flick has found all the right decisions at the key moment and today that decision was Kingsley Coman,” said Hargreaves.
PSG boss Thomas Tuchel even admitted the decision surprised him.
“We had two changes in mind [that Bayern may make] but it was a bit of a surprise [that Coman started],” the German said. “Perisic did very well in the last matches. It was a lot of speed to defend.”
BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand said: “Kingsley Coman was a big decision, bringing him in out of the cold like that, and he was magnificent.”
It was the latest moment in a long line of astute decisions made by Flick, who stepped up from Bayern assistant manager to replace the sacked Niko Kovac as caretaker in November.
“What a transformation one man has made to that club,” said former Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton, a BBC Radio 5 Live pundit.
Flick – a former lower-league manager and Germany assistant boss – was barely known outside his homeland when he took over Germany’s most famous club.
They had just lost 5-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt and sat fourth in the table.
Bayern started winning under his guidance, so his caretaker reign was extended. When they kept winning, it got extended again. And when they couldn’t stop winning, he got the job permanently. Still they kept winning.
From his 36 games in charge, Bayern won 33. They have won their past 21 matches – a run which has seen them win the Bundesliga (by 13 points), the German Cup final and now the Champions League.
“It’s massive for Hansi Flick,” said Sutton. “The job he has done – there’s an argument he wouldn’t have been expected to even win the Bundesliga from the position from which he took over and he’s won the Champions League.
“You look at next season, how can Hansi Flick better this? This has been stunning, the way he has come in and transformed the club.”
BBC pundit Chris Waddle, who lost the 1991 European Cup final with Marseille, said: “You have to give Bayern all the credit they’ll get, and they will get a lot.
“They changed the manager and Flick knows the players inside out. It’s like he’s friends with them. That’s modern management.
“They have so many big players who can handle the big occasions. It is a team with big egos but they have a work ethic, a desire.”
Flick’s impact on this team has been so marked that a side outplayed and seemingly ripe for dismantling little over a year ago after defeat by Liverpool now looks set to be one of Europe’s powerhouses for the foreseeable future.
Hargreaves, who was part of Bayern’s 2001 Champions League-winning team, added: “This is one of the greatest Bayern teams ever.
“Flick’s turned this team into an absolute machine. Everyone in Germany is blown away, the football has blown everyone away.
“Last year Liverpool outplayed them and we thought it was the end of an era and now it’s the start of an era. Leroy Sane is still to come into this team.”