Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is one of the best current players in world football, that is a statement that most will agree with.
Since he arrived at Leicester City and helped them to their first ever Premier League title, he has grown and grown and is now one of the best in the business at doing what he does.
But as he gets set to play in another Champions League final, Kante has been speaking about his early days when he first started off, and he admits that he was one of the more ‘less gifted’ players amongst him and his friends.
In fact, Kante says he was actually turned ‘several times by academies’ before he got his break at Boulogne.
Kante admits that he never expected to go as far as he has gone and it was just his ambition to become a professional footballer.
Well, he’s certainly done that and so much more now!
“Nine years ago, when I was playing for the reserves at Boulogne and made my professional debut in Ligue 2, I was very hungry and very hopeful in football,” Kante told UEFA.
“I didn’t know how far I could go; I just wanted to turn pro and do my best. To have got where I am today with Chelsea and to be lucky enough to play in a Champions League final, bearing in mind everything that’s happened in the meantime, is amazing.
“I wasn’t necessarily the best or the most talented player in the team, but I gave my best with the attributes I had. Growing up, I started watching videos of great footballers like [Diego] Maradona, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. My friends and I sometimes tried to imitate them, to score like they did. However, I haven’t ended up playing like them or in the same position. I was also less gifted than them.
“I had a good number of trials growing up. I was turned down several times by academies. I didn’t see those as failures, personally, but as opportunities to see how I compared to the academy level. At that time, I wasn’t telling myself that I had to go through an academy to turn professional. I was just thinking that I had to give my best, no matter what happened and that I’d succeed at a later stage or in a different way. I think being turned down has shaped me as well.”