N’Golo Kante, How the France Midfielder Turned Down a Chance to Play for Mali
The little Chelsea defensive midfielder might not be the one to normally score or create goals game in game out, but his defensive contribution can’t be overlooked.
The French defender has been a revelation since arriving from French Club Caen over a year ago. He was the defensive wall that helped the foxes to their fairytale Premier league title run last season.
The 25-year-old had a chance to represent Mali at the international level even before he joined Leicester according to his former Caen Manager, Patrice Garande.
Talking about Kante’s Mali approach to ESPN, Garande said, “I had talked to him at that time, because he hadn’t chosen to play for France”
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“He could also have played for Mali. They wanted him to, he didn’t. I often talked to him about the French national team, telling him: ‘There isn’t a player like you, with your profile in midfield’.[/perfectpullquote]
“I always thought he would be an international. He has an incredible ability.”
Kante made a $30 million move to Chelsea in the summer and got his first Les Bleus call up after turning down the Mali team more than once.
He earned his first international debut for the French National team in the Euro 2016 tournament and helped them reach the final.
Still speaking to ESPN, his former coach at Caen also believed the player wasn’t used in his preferred midfield position. He said,
“He played for France in a position that isn’t his [at Euro 2016], in front of the back four, and he was brilliant. He has incredible potential and he’s also a very intelligent boy who has his feet on the ground.”
Kante is coming up against his former club Leicester for the first time today since his departure and will surely have many fond memories with the blues.
Kante in France Colors for Euro 2016. (Photo from Getty Images)