GIVEMESPORT Awards #31: N'Golo Kante, David de Gea and Bruno Fernandes feature

N'Golo Kante is my favourite human being in the world right now.

With Chelsea's Champions League final triumph once again proving that 30% of the Earth is indeed covered by Kante, there's good reason to think that winning Euro 2020 this summer could put the Ballon d'Or in his hands.

I mean, I have it on good authority that Kante's heat map against Manchester City was simply a bright red rectangle from corner flag to corner flag. 

Kante's masterclass vs Man City

There were even amber shades of his movement found as far west as the Spanish border and the great forests of Romania only look green on maps because that's the outermost span of Kante's midfield dominance.

In fact, he covered so much ground and completed such a high number of ball recoveries that although the Porto marathon hasn't taken place since 2019, he actually managed to win it back.

I've even heard reports that the Chelsea hero single-handedly runs the 'block' function at Facebook and that Match.com are changing their name to Kante.com because he's been the man of them so many times.

Chelsea's five-man transfer shortlist REVEALED (Football Terrace)

Gosh. It tailed off a bit at the end, there didn't it?

One of football's good guys

But anyhow, enough of the cheap jokes that were done far better three years ago because for many fans, it was actually Kante's heartwarming behaviour off the pitch that topped his absolute dominance on it.

Anyone who's heard Kante's inspire rising through the football ranks from obscurity in France to mastering the Champions League final will be well aware that his moment in the sun is a triumph for the sport as a whole.

GIVEMESPORT Awards

And as such, it's my absolute pleasure to say that the final GMS Awards of the 2020/21 season are one in which - spoiler alert - Kante shines brighter than most. So, check out our campaign-closing winners down below:

Goal of the week

Rafael Czichos vs Holstein Kiel

Confession time: picking 'goal of the week' was a bit like searching for half a needle in thirty haystacks with so few games and a distinct lack of special strikes in the European finals.

Thankfully, though, FC Köln's Czichos came to the rescue with his sizzling strike in the Bundesliga relegation play-offs, saving me from having to justify either picking Kenny Dougall or Matteo Politano through gritted teeth.

Player of the week

N'Golo Kante

If only I'd have written a massive introduction waxing lyrical about Kante so you could have seen this coming, right? Shoutout to Yuya Osako, Reece James and Etienne Capoue, but this was no competition.

Kante rightfully bagged the Man of the Match award for his indefatigable display in the Champions League final, neutralising City's wealth of attacking midfield talent and laying the foundations for the Blues' second European triumph.

Manager of the week

Neil Critchley

Now, of course, we could have picked Thomas Tuchel or Unai Emery for their respective European achievements and Thomas Frank deserves no end of credit for finally guiding Brentford to the Premier League.

But we're giving it to former Liverpool coach Critchley for hitting the ground running in the world of management, rounding off his first full season at Blackpool by winning the League One Play-off final 2-1 against Lincoln.

Game of the week

Holstein Kiel 1-5 FC Köln

Let's face it, neither the Champions League or Europa League finals were going to win awards for entertainment, but at least the second leg of Holstein Kiel and Köln's Bundesliga relegation play-off delivered the goods.

And despite Holstein Kiel having won the first leg 1-0 on the road, a staggering opening 13 minutes saw them immediately fall 3-1 down in front of their own fans with Köln later securing their survival courtesy of two more goals.

Outrageous skill of the week

Ederson's penalties in Porto

Is this a reach? Yes, yes it is, but in the absence of many step-overs and roulette turns, we're honing in on the fact that City's goalkeeper is bizarrely good at spot-kicks - and he even proved it before the Champions League final.

I can't have been alone in secretly hoping that Ederson took an actual penalty at the Estádio do Dragão having watched the Brazilian shot-stopper score 10 out of 11 times from 12 yards as though he was Bruno Fernandes.

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Fallon d'Floor

Bruno Fernandes vs Villarreal

Speak of the devil. Now, it must be said that Fernandes is something of an easy target when it comes to 'diving' and you get the feeling that rival fans are lurking with their phones whenever he crashes to the ground.

But I'll be honest with you here, the footage of him flopping to the floor under minimal contact from Capoue in the Europa League final - complete with an anguished expression - does little to undercut that reputation.

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Strangest punditry of the week

Paul Scholes on Villarreal

The floor is yours, Paul: “You're playing Villarreal here. You're playing a team that finished seventh in a really poor La Liga. 

“Think of Real Madrid and Barcelona, how bad have they been? Manchester United should win this game comfortably.”

It can be easy to take punditry comments out of context and some of the reaction to Scholes' verdict was pretty hyperbolic, but I'm sorry, Paul, there's no getting away from the fact that you woefully underestimated Villarreal.

Disasterclass of the week

David de Gea vs Villarreal

Now, we're not trying to kick a guy while he's down here because there's no denying that De Gea is a fantastic goalkeeper who played more than competently in the final, but we really need to see him working on penalties.

No, we're not talking about the fact he missed the crucial spot-kick but rather the fact that he hasn't saved a penalty for United since 2014, watching helplessly as Villarreal smashed 11 past him despite having notes on each player.

Tweet of the week

Chelsea

This could easily have taken the prize for the 'S***housery award' - more on what pipped it to the post very shortly - but we couldn't resist acknowledging Chelsea's cheeky Twitter game on the back of the Champions League final either way.

That's because the Blues fired off a few sneaky jibes at their Premier League rivals by captioning celebratory photographs with lyrics by Oasis, who are amongst City's most famous supporters. 

Craziest bet of the week

Jorginho shaving off his beard

In the absence of 1,586-match accumulators or people successfully backing Ederson to score, it only made sense to turn our attention to a bizarre bet by Jorginho that ended up with him casually shaving off his beard.

Having agreed with TNT Sports journalist Fred Caldeira to kiss goodbye to his facial hair if Chelsea won the Champions League, Jorginho stayed true to his word with the report whipping out a shaver after the final whistle.

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Sunday League award

Maidenhead United goalkeeper scoring

Is there anything more Sunday League than people playing in completely random positions that they're not used to? Ok, maybe a few things, but it's not very often that you see a goalkeeper playing up front anywhere other than pub football.

So, just imagine the scenes in the National League when Maidenhead's reserve shot-stopper Rhys Lovett came on as a striker in the closing moments against Boreham Wood and managed to score a late goal. Sensational.

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S***housery award

Antonio Mateu Lahoz

From Chelsea's Oasis tweets to Jerzy Dudek tagging Andriy Shevchenko in an Instagram post about Istanbul, there were more than a few contenders this week, but we do, in fact, have our very first refereeing winner.

That's because the Champions League final's head official, Lahoz, went viral for a hilarious few seconds where he helped Antonio Rudiger back to his feet and then proceeded to give him a yellow card immediately.

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Roy Keane award

Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly

To tell you the truth, I can imagine that Keane's blood pressure was in the stratosphere for every second of United's Europa League final defeat, but nothing will have made him angrier than his former club's dire football.

And with a miserable clip of Bailly and Lindelof simply passing the ball between them for no apparent reason going viral, you can bet that they would have incurred the wrath of the legendary United skipper.

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Urban Dictionary award

Word: Unaiemery (adjective)

Adjective: Absolutely unbeatable in one particular and often obscure field

In a sentence: My cousin Billy is the dictionary definition of unaiemery. I swear down, he's a bang average plumber if ever I've seen one, but when it comes to unblocking toilets, he's an absolute wizard. If it's a cracked pipe, then you're stuffed, but Billy could unblock a bog with his eyes closed, I tell you.

Managerial innuendo award

Pep Guardiola

"They are so good with the ball in behind. That’s why it’s difficult to face teams who want the ball and want to play with the ball."

That's funny, Pep, because I always thought playing with the ball was your bag. Wait, that didn't come out right...

TV Burp award

Most unexpectedly accurate Mr Bean impression after a European final goal of the week

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The funny thing is that Solskjaer's bizarre reaction was actually on the back of United's only positive moment in Gdansk. You should have celebrate it while you had the chance, Ole.

Kante's heartwarming journey

There we have it, folks, that's the GMS awards done and dusted for the season and what better way to draw the curtains than with a masterclass from football's most loveable son?

On a serious note, though, the footage of Kante sharing the joy of Champions League glory with his loved ones after the game really was the perfect way to bookend a season because that is, ultimately, what football is all about.

While people like you and I are about as close to being professional footballers as my writing is to being Pulitzer Prize-worthy, it really serves as a reminder that these sporting icons that we celebrate are a little something called humans.

And although it needn't require a Herculean life journey against the odds to remind people of that fact, Kante's rise is a particularly poignant reminder that hard work and dedication really can make your dreams come true.

So, sure, life does sometimes feel as though you're hobbling along in a Mini Cooper with the wing mirror hanging off and scratches on the wheel arch, but a little kindness, humility and a few smiles along the way can still make it a fun ride.

Stay safe, folks.

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The world's ninth-fastest journalist. Interviewed Sir Mo Farah, Dina Asher-Smith, Eliud Kipchoge and Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Author of such literary classics as 'Ranking every Premier League manager by how good they'd be on a night out'.