N'Golo Kante is undoubtedly one of soccer's most-loved players.
His story, on-pitch attitude and constantly beaming face, not to mention his incredible ability, have gained him millions of admirers across the globe.
Kante burst onto the scene from nowhere at Leicester City, earned a move to Chelsea, and is now one of the first names on the French team sheet.
Here, Planet Sport charts his rise to the pinnacle of world soccer.
Lifting the Premier League with Leicester
Before coming to England it is safe to say that no one had heard the name N'Golo Kante. Fast forward a year and the 5ft 6in central midfielder was the name on everybody's lips.
Signed in 2015 from French Ligue 1 side Caen for a fee reported to be just £5.6million, Kante would go on to be a pivotal part of the Leicester side that won the 2015/16 Premier League title.
Odds of 5,000/1 before the season began highlighted the feat achieved by the Leicester players. A team that featured no superstars would flourish under Claudio Ranieri, after narrowly escaping relegation from the top flight only the year before.
Kante was named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside three Leicester City team-mates and he held the record for most tackles and most interceptions as he topped the defensive charts for the season.
First France call-up and birthday celebrations
Kante's incredible performances for his club were recognised by France and on March 17, 2016 he was called up to the national team for the first time. On only his second appearance, and his 25th birthday, Kante was able to celebrate in more ways than one as he registered his first international goal in a 4-2 win against Russia at the Stade de France. Coincidentally, fellow French player Dimitri Payet also scored and it was his birthday too.
Move to Chelsea
One season in the Premier League was all it took for some of the 'bigger' clubs to take note and it was Chelsea who splashed the cash on the box-to-box Frenchman. The fee was believed to be around £32million, once again considered a bargain given his exploits the previous season for the Foxes. Three months after his move to London, the midfielder faced former club Leicester City and put in a man-of-the-match display in a 3-0 win.
Kante would establish himself as a regular in the Chelsea midfield and five years on is still the Blues' key player.
Back-to-back Premier League titles
At the end of his first season at Chelsea, Kante was again celebrating a Premier League title. His achievement in becoming the first player since Manchester United icon Eric Cantona to win back-to-back Premier League titles with two clubs was recognised with a host of awards.
Among those were the 2016/17 PFA Players' Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and FWA Footballer of the Year.
He was also crowned the 2017 French Player of the Season.
In addition to title glory, Kante got his hands on the FA Cup for the first time in his career in 2017/18. His Chelsea team faced off against Manchester United at Wembley and he played the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 win.
The following season, Kante was rewarded for his incredible performances with a new five-year contract and he reportedly became Chelsea's highest paid player
He has since gone on to win the FA Cup in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Kante was a guaranteed starter for France in the 2018 World Cup, playing all seven of his nation's matches as they won the tournament in Russia.
He was named man of the match in a 0-0 draw with Denmark in the final group stage match and his contributions to both Chelsea and France were recognised as he was named in the 2018 FIFA FIFPro World11 and UEFA Team of the Year.
Not fully fit? No problem
After bruised ribs had forced him to miss Chelsea's previous two games, it was touch and go whether Kante would be available for the 2018/19 Europa League final against Arsenal.
However, despite being less than 100%, Kante started the match and played the full 90 minutes. His dominant display helped Chelsea secure a 4-1 victory and earned him his first European club medal.
Champions League winner
The energetic midfielder's most recent trophy success came at the end of the 2020/21 campaign in the form of the Champions League.
Chelsea were underdogs going into a game that had been moved to Porto due to COVID-19. However, the Blues, guided by the charismatic Thomas Tuchel, produced an excellent tactical display to minimise the threat of Premier League champions Manchester City.
Kante, now 30 years of age, displayed all his maturity and know-how to earn the man-of-the-match award. It also saw his name being thrown into the mix as a leading contender for the Ballon D'Or.