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N'Golo Kanté reflects on the early days of his footballing career

Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

While an increasing number of modern footballers are bred in the youth ranks of top clubs, ready-made to tackle a career in professional football from an early age, some still take the more “traditional” route, born and bred in the streets or in the ranks of amateur clubs who still have the local community first and foremost in their minds.

Such is the story of N'Golo Kanté.

"I came from amateur football. The professional world makes a lot of young amateurs dream, and to go from one to the other can inspire others, like me, when I heard stories of Didier Drogba and [France defender] Adil Rami, who went from being amateurs to becoming pros."

"It was a source of strength, and told me that it was possible, even if you start from a long way off."

Much like former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, Kanté did not play in an academy, instead plying his trade at an amateur club in the French suburbs called JS Suresnes. You might recall a wonderful interview done last year by Michał Zachodny with the two Polish coaches of that team, who reminisced about helping young N’Golo become the player that he is today.

It’s been a long and unlikely road to the top for Kanté, who has a very real chance of becoming a back-to-back winner of the Premier League with two entirely different teams.

"My failures were something for me - it was my first contact with professional football. Though it didn't go all that well, it's not a regret, it's just like that. But looking back, those failures helped me consider football differently, consider the pro world differently."

"Perhaps I would have been different, I would have left my home earlier, my family, my friends. I grew up just as my friends did until 19 before leaving home, and it's because of that I'm who I am now."

-N'Golo Kanté; source: SFR Sport via ESPN

On Tuesday we were once again reminded just why Kanté is such an important player to Chelsea and just how lucky we are that he chose to forgo guaranteed Champions League football with Leicester (who are certainly hurting in the Premier League in his absence) and instead help Chelsea get back into it.

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