In his first three seasons at Chelsea, world-class midfielder N’Golo Kanté has spoiled us niyy just with his supreme displays of talent, but also his reliability. Clear skies and snowy weather, Kanté was there tackling fools and intercepting passes for fun.
Unfortunately we have not had the pleasure of seeing Kanté as often this season. But the player who lives for football is hoping that he can put these injury issues behind him, after making his (hopefully) definitive return last weekend in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
“It made me happy [to return to the pitch against Palace] because it took a lot of work to get back. Already, at the end of last season, I was injured, I was even uncertain for the final of the Europa League against Arsenal. I then lived my vacation with the desire to resume.
“…and I started the season with an ankle sprain. Playing and being stopped, and being stopped again. I hope the worries are behind me.
“I had to handle a sprained knee and sprained ankle that was a little difficult to treat. These were not the easiest months of my career. But I am now pleased to return.”
It turns out that even super-humans can age. As a young player coming out of France, Kanté used to be able to pull through injuries and not pay much attention to them. That might not be the case anymore at 28 years of age and with almost 350 professional games played since 2012.
“Maybe when I was young, I could play even when I had a physical problem. I compensated and made sure to be on the pitch in any circumstances.
“Today, I may have to pay more attention to recovery, to take good care of my little worries because, over time, they can create bigger problems.”
Time away from work, even if forced, can do wonders. But Kanté is not one to treat football as just a job, since he lives to play the sport at the highest level.
So his focus remained on not only making his from injury, but raising the bar and paying more attention to the ‘small details’.
“I do not think [time away from the pitch] added to my daily life. I was aware that I had to accept it.
“So, I took pleasure in the way I prepared for my return and did it my best possible way. I paid more attention to what’s at the side of football.
“I was already very demanding, but I raised the bar because it is often the small details that can cause problems. Not being sucked into the next game, it allowed me to focus on myself and think about what I could do better.”
-N’Golo Kanté; Source: L’Équipe via Sport Witness
Role model, through and through.