Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has explained that the reason for his famously humble nature is an appreciation of the hard work and many setbacks he experienced trying to make it as a footballer.
Kante had modest beginnings in the sport, getting his break at Boulogne in France’s semi-professional third tier, before being catapulted into the spotlight only three years later when he joined Leicester with only a single season of top flight experience.
Kante, who is seldom seen or heard away from the pitch, was a huge factor in Leicester’s shock Premier League title win and has consistently been one of the best players in the world ever since joining Chelsea in the summer of 2016.
The player has debunked myths that he used to run to training at Leicester, but his insistence on driving a Mini Cooper long after making it big in football, compared to the luxury cars favoured by his teammates, and many other similar stories have created an enduring image.
“It’s not necessarily staying humble. To get here, to join Chelsea, to join the French [national] team, was a long journey with lots of setbacks,” Kante revealed to ChelseaFC.com.
“From a young age, training centres didn’t accept me, and I failed numerous times at my attempts to join professional teams,” he added.
“It’s just being grateful for my journey – remembering all the people I have met, and who also wanted this career, to make a living out of football. I succeeded and it’s about enjoying it all. It’s knowing how far I’ve come and enjoying it all, and going as far as I can while I can.”
As a result of his gradual progress in football, Kante explained that he was able to get used to fame, even though he is widely known for being a reserved character.
“It happened slowly,” he said. “At first, in the small towns where I was. For example, in Boulogne, then in Caen. Then in Leicester, it grew more. Then the French team made me shine even more in France. Now, Chelsea, in England, it’s true that I often bump into fans.
“It’s a country that loves football. I just have to deal with it. It always makes fans happy, so when I can and when I don’t mind, I go with it.”