Away game – the SPOX column: N’Golo Kante? Like Dennis Rodman – just nice

N’Golo Kante annoys that he doesn’t provide a reason not to like him. His background and the way he played football ensure that the Chelsea midfielder is loved almost without exception. A search for mistakes.

N’Golo Kante has to do something to stop us liking him. Maybe he’s tripping up an old lady who gives him a friendly greeting beforehand. He could also refuse a little fan a selfie and then make fun of his hairstyle. It would also be possible for him to post a photo on Instagram by lying in bed floydmayweather-like with countless banknotes while his feet are being massaged and he is doused with maple syrup, which others then have to lick clean.

This N’Golo Kante has to do something so that he can finally be one of those normal mortals who at least have a reason not to like them. Or where you can at least discuss why others are much cooler. But no, this 30-year-old man from Paris has hit 1,500 on a popularity scale of 1 to 100 and he’s growing in popularity.

This is amazing at a time when envy, greed and hatred are gaining the upper hand and resentment in society is increasing. Footballers in particular are particularly in focus. Sure, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best footballers in the world and have millions of fans. But there are also millions of people who incite against those two every day. Mostly from the other’s camp. Edge is now also assigned to a bearing. He plays for Chelsea, which on a popularity scale does not even come close to the edge. And yet, Kante is loved and thus pulls his club up a bit.

The reasons are obvious. There’s the classic dishwasher story. His career was about to end before it even began. As a teenager, Kante was a maximally average player. In Suresnes, twelve kilometers from Paris, he played with friends at amateur level. Scouts often came by; from Sochaux, Rennes, Lorient, Amiens and Clairefontaine – and sometimes he was even allowed to practice with us, but every time he failed and was not given a contract.

N’Golo Kante: The classic dishwasher story

He was finally given a chance in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Where Franck Ribery once made the leap to professional football. Edge had at least been on the doorstep before, but the way up was still a long way off. Edge says: “When I first heard the Boulogne coach talk about tactics, I thought to myself: It won’t be that easy. It was a different kind of football for me. The game went from one goal to the other quickly, you had to do a lot anticipate, a lot happened in the center and it was a matter of playing with a maximum of two ball contacts. “

But that wasn’t the only problem for Kante: “When I got there I was injured and when I saw what my team-mates were going through, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do that easily and I would certainly need time. I have I learned a tremendous amount from this difficult experience. In this respect, I was able to develop very well there. I still benefit from that time. ” Edge calls this phase “the biggest hurdle on the way to the top of Europe”.

And this path is really impressive. 2012 amateur footballer, 2013 second division player, 2014 first division player, 2015 move to the Premier League at Leicester City, 2016 champions in the Premier League, 2017 champions in the Premier League with Chelsea, 2018 world champions, 2019 Europa League winners, 2021 Champions League winner. This picture book career, despite all the hurdles and problems, makes this N’Golo Kante so approachable for many. He is one of them. One of us who made it to the top. Without ever having been to a youth academy or an expensive football boarding school.

When Kante is on the pitch today, you don’t notice that other players have more cautious and perfectly thought-out youth development behind them. But on the contrary. “If he’s in shape you have a 95 percent chance of winning the game,” said Eden Hazard of his former team-mate. And Thomas Tuchel, Kant’s trainer at Chelsea, knows that “N’Golo brings input to every team in the world”. If Tuchel weren’t Tuchel, he would say: “N’Golo is an incredibly awesome player.”

And that brings us to the other reason why this N’Golo Kante is so loved. It is helpful to the team at a high level. You might be exaggerating to say that he was the only reason Manchester City didn’t find his game in the Champions League final. Even this thesis would definitely win votes for itself.

N’Golo Kante is like Dennis Rodman

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