N’Golo Kante is leaving Chelsea after seven trophy-laden years at Stamford Bridge.
The France international, who also won the World Cup with his nation during his time in blue, will leave the club to take up a new opportunity in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ittihad following the expiry of his contract.
It brings to an end an incredible era for both player and club, during which Kante helped Chelsea win the Premier League and FA Cup domestically, plus the Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup in Europe, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.
His name will forever be etched in Chelsea folklore for the impact he has had. The humble, brilliant midfielder has given his all to this club and as he embarks on a new chapter in his career, he reflects on his time in London and why the Blues will always have a place in his heart.
Over to you, NG…
The perfect move
I remember how the switch to Chelsea happened very clearly.
I was at Leicester and we had a great season. Shortly after we won the title, my agent called me and told me that Chelsea were interested in buying me.
Immediately I had good chemistry with Antonio Conte. He was the coach who signed me and I felt he knew what he wanted from me and what he wanted and expected from the club.
So from then I decided to join Chelsea and I have never regretted the choice, it was perfect for me.
Making my mark
My first game with Chelsea is something I look back on fondly. It was a big game, a London derby against West Ham.
I remember getting a yellow card and maybe I was lucky that I didn’t actually get a red card! I had already received a caution and then I made a foul after, but luckily the referee didn’t sanction it with another yellow card.
It was my debut, a special moment and my first time playing at Stamford Bridge in a Blues shirt.
Seeing the crowd and playing in front of them as a Chelsea player for the first time was very special and something I will always look back on with great pleasure.
Growing with Chelsea
Throughout my time at Chelsea I have worked with some incredible coaches who have all helped me develop my game.
Working with top coaches has helped me understand the game in different ways – offensive and defensive phases, team cohesion, how to press at the right time – things like this.
When everyone plays together in the same frame of mind, it helps you pull together as a collective and that’s something I really felt at Chelsea. From the time I joined in 2016 to now, I have developed so much as a player and that is why this club has given me the opportunity to do so.
That night in Porto
I’ve had so many good times at Chelsea, but of course winning the Champions League stands out. In fact, I would say that the last stages of the journey as a whole were really special.
We put in some very good performances against top teams to reach the final and then of course we ended up celebrating with the trophy which was such a great feeling.
It was the first time I was in the quarter-finals, the semi-finals of such a big competition. We had been there before in the Europa League, but the Champions League is even more beautiful, it is special.
Getting to the final was honestly a great feeling, but once you get there, all you focus on is wanting to win the game.
We had done so well to get to this stage and performed well against big teams and you have to remember that even in the final we weren’t favorites to win. So of course it felt great to win this final.
The trophy is just a plus because really the biggest thing is the journey we’ve been on and it’s something we’ll always remember. The feeling of that night will stay with us for a long time. Even now, talking about that night makes me smile.
The Chelsea spirit
When I watch the footage it makes me smile and when we win I honestly just want to enjoy the moment and celebrate with the fans. We certainly did that night in Porto.
Ever since I joined, the need to win has been there. It’s the Chelsea spirit and you feel it straight away.
The players feel and all the coaches we’ve had, they’ve all shared a burning desire to win titles and trophies.
I always wanted to be at the top and being at Chelsea they helped me achieve my dream. Here I have celebrated great victories, great trophies and I have been able to grow as a footballer.
People have often asked me how and why I remain so humble. For me, it’s not necessarily about staying humble. It’s just being me and remembering the journey I’ve taken.
Coming here with Chelsea, joining the French national team was such a long journey for me with many, many setbacks.
From a young age, many training centers did not accept me and I failed on several occasions in my attempts to join a professional club. These setbacks make you who you are and serve as a reminder to me every day.
I am just grateful for my journey. I think of all the people I’ve met along the way, people who shared the same dream as me to make it as a professional footballer, to reach the top.
Not everyone can fulfill their dreams. I am lucky. I have succeeded and I made the decision to always remember how far I have come and to enjoy the ride.
As I said earlier, my dream was to become a footballer and try to win trophies. Joining Chelsea was the perfect arrangement for me to achieve those dreams.
The first day I came to Chelsea I was told very early on that the aim here is always to win trophies. Always.
I have managed to do that and I am so grateful to my coaches, my teammates and the Chelsea supporters for helping me achieve this.
The last few years at this club have been fantastic for me and, I hope, for the Chelsea fans too.
N’Golo, you don’t have to thank Chelsea. In fact, we should be thanking you. Good luck in the future, legend.