Regardless of which football team you support, it’s difficult not to love N’Golo Kante.
It’s not just his world-class ability that has helped him establish his status as one of the Premier League’s most loved players; it’s his modesty and humility.
For a top-level footballer - ‘the best midfielder in the world,’ according to Frank Lampard - the Frenchman is remarkably unassuming and you sense the fame will never go to his head, regardless of what he achieves over the coming years.
It’s been a spectacular year for Kante, who left last season’s Premier League champions Leicester City for Chelsea last summer.
The Blues paid £32 million for his services - a fee which, 10 months later, looks an absolute steal.
Kante has played a starring role in Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph this season and deservedly won the PFA’s Player of the Year award earlier this month.
He was also recently named the Football Writers’ Player of the Year and he picked up his latest individual accolade at the Landmark Hotel in London on Thursday evening.
Kante's modest words after winning FWA award
Kante was typically modest after accepting the award.
“It's special because I couldn't even say I'm the best player but it's very special and a great honour,” Kante, who collected more than 65 per cent of the journalists’ votes, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. “It's not only me. I owe so much to my team-mates because we have achieved so much together this season and we still have the FA Cup.
“It is very special, a few years ago I was playing in the French lower divisions. Five years ago I wasn't even professional so to receive this kind of award means I am the kind of player I cannot even imagine being here.”
Why Antonio Conte refused to make a speech
Antonio Conte was supposed to give a speech, but the Italian coach refused.
This is according to Chelsea’s technical director Michael Emenalo, who ended up doing the speech instead.
But why wouldn’t Conte do the speech himself? After all Kante has done for him this season, it seems a little bit harsh, doesn’t it?
Emenalo, per the Mirror, explained Conte’s decision: ”For those of you who don't know, I am the stand in for Antonio Conte who was supposed to give this speech.
"Antonio decided not to do it because the Football Writers' Association couldn't find 25 awards for all of his players and he doesn't believe in individual awards.
"But if he was here, he would say about N'Golo that he is a fantastic player, very good in all tactical aspects, but he must improve.
"It is ridiculous to think that N'Golo Kante can improve, given the fact that he has improved two fantastic clubs and helped them win titles in the last couple of seasons."
Conte is right to put the emphasis on the team
So, there you have it. Conte refused to do the speech because he doesn’t believe in individual awards.
You have to admire that, in a way. Football is very much focused on the individual, rather than the collective, these days and without his teammates, Kante wouldn’t have received this - or any other - award.
Emenalo added: "I want to express the great pride that I personally have and the football club, and to be able to say that this wonderful player, this wonderful person is a part of our organisation.
"It gives me great joy tonight to say congratulations N'Golo and to wish you all the best, and hopefully continue to improve. From the Chelsea family, you're the pride and joy."
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