N’Golo Kante, The Quiet And Unassuming Superstar


AFP — He may shy away from the limelight, but there were few more popular members of France’s 2018 World Cup-winning side than N’Golo Kante, who on Saturday will aim to get his hands on one of the few trophies that has so far evaded him when Chelsea face Manchester City in the Champions League final.

France supporters came up with a song for Kante during that triumphant summer in Russia, to the tune of the 1969 hit “Les Champs-Elysees” by Joe Dassin.

As the song goes, “he is small, he is kind, he stopped Leo Messi”.
It does take a ruthless streak to get to the very top in football as Kante has, winning two Premier League titles, the Europa League and the FA Cup as well as the World Cup.

Despite that, everyone who has encountered Kante since the start of his career in the Paris suburbs seems to agree there is no other player quite like the 30-year-old.
“Every time he comes back to Paris he comes to see us,” Karim El-Moudkhil, Kante’s former coach, tells AFP.

READ ALSO:   Tiemoue Bakayoko Signs 5 years Deal With Chelsea Fc


“But he doesn’t just stop by, he stays to eat with us, he agrees to have his photo taken with everyone, to play with the kids.”

Kante, whose parents are of Malian origin, grew up in a large family on a quiet estate in Rueil-Malmaison, to the west of the French capital.

El-Moudkhil has endless anecdotes to tell as well as recent videos of Kante playing football with children in the neigbourhood who, not surprisingly, idolise him.

“In the summer, everyone comes out to play wearing the shirts of the teams he has played for: Caen, Leicester, Chelsea, France,” says the coach.

Kante is widely liked and respected for his warmth and modesty, and as a player he has forged a reputation for being generous and discrete, with his on-pitch persona matching his personality off it.
“He has never become big-headed, he has never changed,” says El-Moudkhil. “His brothers are the same. I would like to know how they have done it.”

READ ALSO:   FA Cup: 3 Lessons Learnt From Chelsea’s Victory

Never angry

When you ask his former coach if he can recall Kante getting angry during a game or showing any negative emotions, the question is met with an almost sorry response.

“I am trying to think of something but I honestly can’t remember any. I have never seen him get angry as long as I have known him.

“And yet if anyone could have got angry it was him given the amount of times he used to get kicked while playing at Suresnes.”

It was there, in a pleasant suburb by the Seine River, that Kante played as a youngster.

Unlike most modern-day superstars, Kante was never picked up by the youth academy of a professional club. He had talent, but his size and personality seemed to work against him.

READ ALSO:   Chelsea's Coach, Antonio Conte, Signs New Contract With Club

“N’Golo is not somebody who tends to stand out, so at a trial he just wasn’t visible,” Pierre Ville, a director at Suresnes, told AFP in 2018.

His career did gradually take off as he moved to France’s far north to sign for Boulogne-sur-Mer aged 19.

Soon he was playing for their first team in the third division, and he then joined Caen in 2013, helping them win promotion to Ligue 1.

After just one season in the French elite, Kante moved to Leicester aged 24 in 2015 and was one of the stars of their surge to the Premier League title in 2015/16.

He then left for Chelsea where he has continued to star, right up to being the man of the match in both legs of the Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid.

Subscribe to Our VIP Newsletter

Previous articleBuhari Meets Libyan PM In Aso Villa
Next articleVillarreal Edge Man Utd In Epic Shootout To Win Europa League
'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here