It is easy to ignore diminutive N’Golo Kante amid all of France’s star-studded World Cup squad that includes $100 million-plus players such as Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, Euronews reports.
But when the French take on Croatia on Sunday in the World Cup final, Kante will have contributed as much to that success if not more than the big name team mates, as every one of France’s opponents in Russia can testify.
The 27-year-old does not have the stature of fellow midfielder Pogba, nor does he have the lightning speed of Mbappe or the goal-scoring ability of Griezmann.
He has, however, “15 lungs”, according to Pogba, an incomparable work ethic and a unique ability to read the game like few others, a fact that makes him a one-man wall as beaten semi-finalists Belgium can attest after he helped neutralise their famed attacking threat.
Playing in front of defenders, for much of his career Kante’s abilities had gone unnoticed given that as recently as 2013 he was playing in France’s second division.
Only when he came to Leicester City in 2015 did the world start to take notice of the player who patrols the area in front of his defence in such a way that allows both midfielders and defenders to play up.