Kante says Drogba's story inspired him

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante has told SFR Sport that Didier Drogba's unconventional rise to the top fuelled his own progress from amateur football to the Premier League. Drogba was 26 when he arrived at Chelsea from Marseille

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has told SFR Sport that Didier Drogba’s unconventional rise to the top fuelled his own progress from amateur football to the Premier League.

Drogba was 26 when he arrived at Chelsea from Marseille in 2004 after spending the early part of his career battling for recognition at Le Mans and Guingamp.

Like Ivory Coast legend Drogba, Kante did not attend a club youth academy in France, instead playing amateur football and then learning his trade at Boulogne and Caen before the 12 months that changed his life after he joined Leicester City in 2015.

The 25-year-old, who joined Chelsea in the summer after Leicester’s shock title triumph, said: “I came from amateur football.

“The professional world makes a lot of young amateurs dream, and to go from one to the other can inspire others, like me, when I heard stories of Didier Drogba and [France defender] Adil Rami, who went from being amateurs to becoming pros.

“It was a source of strength, and told me that it was possible, even if you start from a long way off.”

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante was playing third-tier football in France just four years ago.

After playing football in Suresnes in the Paris suburbs, Kante joined Boulogne on an amateur contract in 2010, working his way up to becoming a member of France’s Euro 2016 squad last season.

“My failures were something for me — it was my first contact with professional football,” he said. “Though it didn’t go all that well, it’s not a regret, it’s just like that.

“But looking back, those failures helped me consider football differently, consider the pro world differently.

“Perhaps I would have been different, I would have left my home earlier, my family, my friends. I grew up just as my friends did until 19 before leaving home, and it’s because of that I’m who I am now.”

Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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