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For all of N’Golo Kante’s defensive play, one would have thought that he watched some very combative midfielders growing up as a kid.
The likes of Patrick Vieira, Brazil’s Dunga, Didier Deschamps, Gilberto Silva, Roy Keane and Edgar Davids are some players you’d think Kante would have been fascinated by.
However, the combative Chelsea midfielder had revealed that he watched the likes of Diego Maradona, Brazil’s Ronaldo and Ronaldinho – and he even tried to imitate them.
Kante said in an interview with uefa: “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.”
Kante spoke to the offical uefa website about his rise in football from the lower leagues in France. It wasn’t an easy growth process for Kante, who has now revealed how he was rejected by many academies as a youngster.
According to Kante, his past failures spurred him to push on.
He said in the interview: “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.”