N'Golo Kante honoured with FWA award as Chelsea target more from star man
N'Golo Kante may have remained humble as he received the 2017 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award, but Chelsea are confident the midfielder can continue to drive them on to more success.
Kante received the prestigious FWA accolade at the Landmark Hotel in London on Thursday evening, which was in recognition of an outstanding season as the 26-year-old played an instrumental part in the Blues winning the Premier League.
It is the second successive campaign where Kante has been the driving force for the champions after his exploits at Leicester earned a £32million summer move to Stamford Bridge.
Kante, though, paid tribute to the efforts of his team-mates in Antionio Conte's triumphant squad as he accepted the award which marked the 70th anniversary of the FWA.
"It is special because I couldn't even say I am the best player, but it's very special and a great honour," said Kante, who fought off competition from his team-mate Eden Hazard and Tottenham forward Dele Alli - voted second and third respectively in the poll of journalists.
"It is not only me. I owe so much to my team-mates because we have achieved so much together this season and we still have the FA Cup.
"It is very special, a few years ago I was playing in the French lower divisions. Five years ago I wasn't even professional, so to receive this kind of award means I am the kind of player I cannot even imagine being here."
In total five Chelsea players were nominated by the 340-strong FWA membership, with Hazard, David Luiz, Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta also receiving votes.
But Kante collected more than 65 per cent of the nominations, which were spread over a record number of 17 different players.
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo joked he sent Leicester flowers after seeing Kante up close and believes there is even more to come.
"For those of you who don't know, I am the stand in for Antonio Conte who was supposed to give this speech," Emenalo said.
"Antonio decided not to do it because the Football Writers' Association couldn't find 25 awards for all of his players and he doesn't believe in individual awards.
"But if he was here, he would say about N'Golo that he is a fantastic player, very good in all tactical aspects, but he must improve.
"It is ridiculous to think that N'Golo Kante can improve, given the fact that he has improved two fantastic clubs and helped them win titles in the last couple of seasons."
Emenalo added: "I want to express the great pride that I personally have and the football club, and to be able to say that this wonderful player, this wonderful person is a part of our organisation.
"It gives me great joy tonight to say congratulations N'Golo and to wish you all the best, and hopefully continue to improve. From the Chelsea family, you're the pride and joy."