Kante has certainly come a long way from his Boulogne days, even his Caen days. Honestly, you wouldn't have even heard of him, if not for Leicester's title winning season last year. But you did, and his impressive displays earned him a £32 million move to Chelsea the following summer. Almost a year later, he is the PFA Player of the Year and is on course to win a second successive Premier League title.
Born in Paris, Kante began his career at JS Suresnes at the age of eight. His small stature and selfless playing style meant that he often flew under-the-radar of most clubs. He joined Boulogne's reserve team in 2010, who were then in the French sixth tier. After contributing to his team's promotion to the fifth tier, he was finally handed a chance to play for Ligue 2 side Caen in 2013.
He was instrumental in his debut season with Caen, playing all 38 games. Caen finished third that season earning them promotion to Ligue 1. The following season saw him become the player to have recovered the ball more times than any other player in Europe. He immediately caught the eyes of then Leicester scout and current Everton Director of Football Steve Walsh. Soon enough, he joined the Foxes on a four-year deal after a bid in the region of £5.6 million was accepted.
It was with Leicester that the diminutive midfielder made his mark in world football. Pre-season relegation candidates had upset the big boys to win the title, and N'Golo Kante was at the heart of it. His tireless running, incredible ball recovery and the ability to intercept just about anything that moves earned him plaudits from around the world. He ended the 2015-16 season with an incredible 175 tackles and 157 interceptions, leading the league in defensive stats and featured in the PFA Team of the year.
By then, he had already become a household name, playing a part in France's run to the Euro 2016 final. He was ready to take the next step when Chelsea came calling in the summer of 2016. Incoming manager Antonio Conte had identified Kante a necessity to steady the Chelsea ship after a disastrous campaign. After his "dream move" to Stamford Bridge, Kante has enjoyed a stellar season, guiding the Blues to the top of the table and inevitably drawing comparisons with Chelsea legend Claude Makelele, though his role model is Lassana Diarra.
He is highly respected and adored by players and fans alike, a fact highlighted by his PFA Player of the Year crowning.
The machine that is N'Golo Kante, is here to run for a long, long time. And while he is, it's safe to say that he will intercept many more awards in the years yet to come.
"One day, I'm going to see you cross the ball, and then finish the cross with a header yourself" - Claudio RanieriKante