Chelsea’s annual awards night was a slightly less joyous occasion than last year, to say the least, but the lavish occasion was already paid and prepped for and so we went through the motions. Of course, much like the lap of honor the night before, the result of a single match should not be all that we judge the players for, and the worthy winners should certainly be recognized.
And there isn’t anyone more worthy of our respect and recognition than the adorable N’Golo Kante, who was named Chelsea Player of the Year for the first time in his career. He finished a narrow second to Eden Hazard last year; this season, those roles were reversed.
After accepting his award from Antonio Conte, Kante said a few nice things in his usual humble, shy manner.
“I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to enjoy this night.
“We have a very good team, a very good team spirit, I have really enjoyed my two seasons with Chelsea and I hope we can win and do the best things in the future together.”
-N’Golo Kante; source: Chelsea FC
Kante is the first central midfielder to win this award since Frank Lampard in 2009. Three of the last four years belonged to Eden Hazard, who actually ended up not winning anything on this awards night.
Kante’s award was the final one on the night, but several other worthy winners were recognized. Willian was named Players’ Player of the Year for the second time in three years; he collected his award earlier in the week, direct from Kante and Hazard (the two Player of the Year awards winners from last season).
Willian also won Goal of the Year for his effort against Brighton (on the back of the combination between Hazard and Batshuayi). Willian becomes the fourth different Brazilian to win this award after Belletti, Ramires (x2), and Oscar (x2). Hazard had won the previous two years.
However, in accepting the award, Willian revealed that his favorite type of goals to score are actually the ones “against Tottenham”, which is an award-winning answer in and of itself, and that he hopes to score more amazing goals next season.
Other awards winners on the men’s side included Andreas Christensen (Young Player of the Year) and Reece James (Academy Player of the Year).
The awards on the Ladies’ side were dominated by Super-SuperFran Kirby, who won both Ladies Players’ Player of the Year and the Ladies Player of the Year. It’s been an great season for the Chelsea Ladies — they are on course for a League and FA Cup Double — starting with Kirby’s excellence in front of goal.
She was presented with the Players’ award by retiring captain Katie Chapman (she of the all-England record 10 FA Cups) earlier this week...
... and accepted her Player of the Year award on stage with a perfect acceptance speech.
Kirby was also named the inaugural winner of the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year award last night, making it three awards won in just one night for the 24-year-old superstar who has that perfect Chelsea winning mentality.
WATCH: Fran Kirby talks about her winning mentality as she receives the inaugural Football Writers' Association Women's Footballer of the Year award. https://t.co/sqKUYwutfT— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 10, 2018
Congrats to all the winners!