If true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing, is true modesty the feeling that you aren’t modest? If the pinnacle of stupidity is not realizing how stupid you are, is the pinnacle of being nice not realizing how nice you are?
Let us ponder those questions while N’Golo Kanté tries to convince us that he’s not a nice person in this month’s cover story in Chelsea magazine.
“I am how I am. I cannot explain it well, but I don’t feel the nicest person, on the football pitch or in life, I’m just myself. If I win, I win and if I lose, I lose, but I always try to give my best in any competition. That’s not because I’m nice or something. I’m just myself.”
Yeah, nice try, N’Golo. That just means that it’s not act. He truly is that humble, that modest, that shy.
So when teammates have to make sure he gets his turn with the World Cup trophy, it’s not because he putting an act for the cameras. It’s because that’s just who he is.
“I like to enjoy the moment with the boys, but not like some players who are more expressive – although I enjoy it as much as them. When we won the World Cup and the camera was moving across, some of the players knew that I don’t like to have too much attention on me, so they pushed me forward and were singing. It was a good moment, and I hope I enjoyed it in the best way. I hope that some moments like this will come again, because it was really exceptional.”
So when he celebrates a goal awkwardly it’s not because they’re rare, it’s because introverts tend not to make big public displays of emotion.
“I play football and I want to be considered as a footballer. I don’t want people paying too much attention about what I am outside of football, what I’m doing, and asking: “Who is N’Golo?”
And so when he’s asked how is he so good at what he does, and he responds with just a shrug and a matter-of-fact “I work hard” answer, it’s not because he’s spouting his media training, it’s because that’s what he truly believes and that’s how he truly operates.
“Just consider me as a footballer, you don’t need to look too much at this and say: “Oh, he’s like this, he’s like this, he’s like this.” Ask me about my football, and not too much else. I just want to be a player among the players.”
Is there anybody who doesn’t love N’Golo Kanté? This dented Mini-driving, self-effacing, adorable absolute force of nature, off and lately on the ball as well.
One more time... N'GOLO KANTE, HE SCORES WHEN HE WANTS!— Chelsea FC USA (@ChelseaFCinUSA) December 8, 2018
: @NBCSportsSoccer pic.twitter.com/Ukaz5aToTI
It would be fascinating to truly understand what drives and motivates a player like N’Golo Kanté. He’s unlikely to ever tell us, but maybe he’ll let someone write a book about him one day. Because just as he’s humble and shy, he’s also a winner and someone driven to succeed. Tell us of your homeworld, N’Golo!
“I’ve been at Chelsea for just over two years and we won the Premier League and the FA Cup. This is a champion’s club, an ambitious club, and I hope to win these trophies again. Of course Europe is a target, but every season I hope to win the most trophies I can. Keep winning, keep winning.”
-N’Golo Kanté; source: Chelsea FC
Just keep winning. Winning leagues. Winning Cups. Winning a World Cup! Winning Player of the Year awards. Winning club awards, winning league awards, winning national awards. Winning Ballon d’Or nominations and winning UEFA accolades.
Winning. Not losing. That’s N’Golo.
N’Golo Kanté has been nominated for the 2018 UEFA Team of the Year pic.twitter.com/bbeUbQF0Fh— N’Golo Stuff (@NGoloStuff) December 10, 2018
Recently inked to a new five-year contract, we can share in his joy, delight in his talents, and marvel at his personality for the foreseeable future.
And that is something we can all agree is a great thing. (Even you, Silly Sarri and your tactical ideology.)