N’Golo Kante, the 5-foot 6-inch midfielder, took the Premier League by storm when he joined Leicester City in 2015. He led the Premier League in both interceptions and tackles that year to help the Foxes lay their hands on the Premier League title.
A shocking title run that remains as one of the best underdog stories in Premier League history. He was soon snatched by Chelsea and became an integral part of the starting eleven since. He was named as the PFA Players Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the season in 2016-17 as Chelsea claimed the Premier League.
13 – N'Golo Kanté recovered possession of the ball 13 times last night against Atlético Madrid, the most ball recoveries by a Chelsea player in a Champions League match since N'Golo Kanté's 13 against Barcelona in February 2018. Omnipresent. pic.twitter.com/RQkmGT1fxj
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 18, 2021
The following year he won the FA Cup with Chelsea. In the 2018-19 season, they went on to win the Europa League. Even amidst changing managers and incoming million dollar signings, Kante remained a constant in the starting XI. Under new manager Thomas Tuchel he is once again their key player. A strong box-to-box midfielder who does not stop running, winning back possession and quickly setting off counter-attacks.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 5, 2021
“He said to me at half-time in extra-time that his legs were finished, his legs were dead – and then he’s sprinting 50 yards to cover. We know how important he is to this club and we’re delighted to have him. And you saw the difference he made tonight.” – Frank Lampard on N’Golo Kante.
DOWN TO EARTH
N’Golo Kante has been an ever-present player in the French national team since 2016. He started in all the matches in France’s successful campaign in the FIFA World Cup in Russia. The shy little guy was chosen over the many outspoken stars at France’s disposal. His incredible performance in the World Cup was rewarded as he was named in the FIFPro World XI the same year.
He was also named in the UEFA Team of The Year that season. What’s more astonishing is the humble character of this little Frenchman who never fails to put on a smile.
Nzonzi telling the players to give kanté the trophy, then giving the trophy to him before getting a photo for himself. What a nice guy! pic.twitter.com/wjdtz0B5e7
— – (@____idek) July 15, 2018
He is loved by all and deserves every ounce of it. There might be no one on this planet that could hold a grudge against this man. No, absolutely no one. The World Cup winner was too shy to ask to pose for a photo with the coveted trophy despite playing every match in the final. Steven N’Zonzi sorting had to ask on his behalf. Asked about the trophy afterwards, Kanté replied: “It is quite heavy and very shiny.” He is so soft-spoken and kind that even rival fans love him.
Describing Kante as just a workhorse would be an understatement. To cite an example; Kante had bought a second-hand Mini Cooper on his arrival in Leicester. However, he initially deemed that the car was unnecessary.
According to The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, “Kanté reckoned it was possible to run into training every day and had to be persuaded that it wasn’t usually done that way in the Premier League.” On a side note: He kept his Mini Cooper despite receiving a substantial increase in wage upon his move to Chelsea. Kept it even after he crashed the car. What a man!
70% of the earth is covered by water. The rest is covered by N'Golo Kanté pic.twitter.com/WcsWXdZcYG
— Dream Team (@dreamteamfc) February 12, 2017
Diving into the current season, we back the notion that Cesc Fabregas lays down. Kante does play for two. With Kante on the field, Chelsea has an extra man. They say 70% of the Earth is covered by water and the rest by N’Golo Kante. The saying couldn’t be truer. In the recent semi-final matches against Real Madrid, Kante swept the Man of the Match Awards in both legs.
A stunning display of impressive tackles and ball recoveries combined with excellent passing, dribbling and vision. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were left in the shadow of this French engine who was almost always everywhere the camera could lay its eyes on.
N’Golo Kanté is not just the man of the match, again. He’s a special guy and special player. Chelsea board has ‘protected’ him last summer: two clubs were set to open talks to sign Kanté offering more than €50m, Chelsea answer has always been ‘NO’. 🔵🚫 #CFC #UCL
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 5, 2021
He has, without a question, been the most integral part of Chelsea’s success this season. Just one more step and Kante could lay his hands on his first-ever Champions League title. Not bad for a man who once used to help his father pick up trash from the streets.
HIS PLACE IN FRANCE
France has the best in-depth squads of any team across Europe, perhaps even in the world. There are to the very least two players in every position for Didier Deschamps to choose from. However, to let off Kante from the starting line-up would be a huge mistake on the manager’s part. A mistake he could do well without, especially considering his recent form.
France's current squad depth is frightening..
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) September 10, 2019
The whole national squad is filled with high-profile names who love to take the spotlight. Almost impossible to name one other player that wouldn’t want the limelight. And then there is Kante. He does all the work and doesn’t even take credit for it. We love him, France loves him and so does his teammates.
He is not the star man in the team. However, he is definitely one of the most important ones in the team’s functioning. A strong team that is balanced in every position, capable of attacking and defending with equal capacity, with Kante being the perfect addition, adding flair and distance.
N'Golo Kanté was the first outfield player to win back-to-back Premier League titles with two different clubs.
🏆 2015/16 (Leicester)
🏆 2016/17 (Chelsea)
In those two seasons combined, he made more tackles (302) and more interceptions (238) than any other player. pic.twitter.com/z19zVv0uRE
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 18, 2020
This year, France are the favourites to lift the coveted trophy. A World Cup victory should be all the inspiration they need to win the Euro’s this summer. Kante has a rare opportunity to help his teams win the Champions League and the Euro Championship in the same year.
Whether or not they do manage it, we love N’Golo Kante and his universal smile!