CHELSEA midfielder N’Golo Kante landed the prestigious Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year prize on Sunday night.
The Frenchman, who is on course to win a second successive Premier Leaguetitle after also being part of the Leicester side which upset the odds last season, secured the most votes from his fellow players.
He saw off competition from Chelseateam-mate Eden Hazard – who won the award in 2015 – plus Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.
Kante said: “To be chosen by the players to be player of the year means a lot to me.
“It means the world to be chosen and it’s been two beautiful seasons, one with Leicester, and we are in good form with Chelsea. To be player of the year, it’s a great honour.”
On his move from Leicester to Stamford Bridge, Kante continued:
“It’s a different type of playing, but with the manager, with the players, everything is easy, because we work a lot to be good in the games. It’s working very well.”
Asked about the influence of boss Antonio Conte, the former Boulogne and Caen player said: “He knows what he wants from the players.
“He wants to win, and we work very, very, very hard in training for him. He put a winning mentality into the squad, and everyone wants to give their best for the team, and to make Chelsea win titles.”The Blues are four points clear at the top of the Premier League and Paris-born Kante added: “We have to fight for six more games.
“We’re going to fight like a final for every game, and hopefully we can win the league at the end of the season.”
Chelsea will also face Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 27 and, on talk of a double, he said: “We’re going to fight for both competitions.
“The cup is just one game, and the league six games, and we’re going to give our best to win these two competitions.”
On the PFA’s contribution, the 26-year-old said: “It’s important because when we want to improve football, to concern everyone, it’s good to have unity, and to think together.”
Kante was presented with the award at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Sunday evening.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli won the young player prize for the second successive season, Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze won the women’s player of the year award for the second time having also won it in 2014, and Birmingham’s Jess Carter topped the voting in the women’s young player category.
Former England captain David Beckham received the PFA’s Merit award for his contribution to the game.
Kante has played a key role in Chelsea’s surge to the top of the league this season and is renowned as a tireless box-to-box competitor who helps break up opposition attacks and initiate them for his own side.
He is set to become the first player to achieve the distinction of winning successive Premier League titles with different clubs if Chelsea can hold off Tottenham in this season’s championship race.
Blues manager Antonio Conte joked after another commanding display by Kante in a win over West Ham last month that he is struggling to find a fault in his game.
“He made five mistakes. He has to improve in this. He has to improve,” Conte said.
“I am joking. But I have to find one situation to tell him to improve. He’s playing really well.
“He has great stamina, great quality and we are working to improve that quality. I’m pleased for him.”