Why Chelsea Midfielder N’Golo Kante Snubbed African Country Mali to Play for French National Football Team

Why Chelsea Midfielder N’Golo Kante Snubbed African Country Mali to Play for French National Football Team

Babajide Orevba
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:13 PM
  • N’Golo Kante was eligible to feature for the Sub-Saharan country, Mali, where his parents were born
  • The impressive midfielder, who was born in Paris, had wanted to play national team football for the Eagles
  • France came knocking just after the masterful midfielder helped Leicester City to win the Premier League in 2016

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante had wanted to feature for the Malian national team before he was snapped up by France.

Kante had just helped Leicester City win the English Premier League in a spectacular fashion in 2016, and his former boss at the King Power Stadium, Steve Walsh, said the impressive star wanted to play for Mali.

He made his debut for Les Blues on March 25 that same year when he replaced Lassana Diarra at halftime in a 3-2 win against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena.

N'Golo Kante, Mali, France, Leicester City
N’Golo Kante had the opportunity to represent Mali, but he opted for France. Photo: Xavier Laine
Source: Getty Images

The Sunday Times reports via Africa CGTN that Kante told Walsh that he wanted to play for Mali because his parents are from the Sub-Saharan country. He told Walsh:

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“I want to play for Mali, my parents are from Mali.”

He added, as per Sport Skeeda:

"My parents called me N'golo because it is the name of an ancient king in Mali. A King who started from below to conquer a kingdom.

"I used to collect garbage before. Today I play football, and they watch me on TV. My story is also beautiful, I started from below."

Why Kante picked France

However, Walsh reportedly advised Kante to pick France over Mali since the European side had a better chance of challenging for top honours.

Kante has played an integral part in the French national team and was part of the team that won the World Cup in 2018 in Russia.

Mali tried to get Kante

Mali wooed him during his time with French club Caen ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, but Kante ignored, saying he wanted to focus on his club career.

During his time with the Eagles of Mali, French tactician Alain Jean Giresse testified that it was impossible to overlook such an incredible player.

Giresse said:

"It's impossible to overlook a player of such quality and we've already approached his representatives. Kante will add a lot to any country but my big hope is that it will be the national team of Mali."

Kante rejects Chelsea’s contract extension

Meanwhile, Sports Brief earlier reported that Kante became the latest Chelsea player to reject a new deal as he nears the end of his contract.

The player is understood to be very comfortable at Chelsea and wants a longer deal than the one the club is offering at the moment.

Chelsea have offered Kante a three-year deal, including an initial two-year deal with the possibility of a further year.

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Babajide Orevba
Babajide Orevba is a CAF accredited Nigerian journalist and HOD of the Local Desk with over 10 years of experience in media landscape.He studied NCE Political Science/Social Studies, AOCOED.