'15-lung' Kante the unsung hero

Coaches, team-mates and other players are heaping praise on the tireless French midfield dynamo

France midfielder N'Golo Kante winning the ball in Tuesday's semi-final against Belgium. At 1.68m, Kante may be one of the smallest players in Russia, but he has been colossal for Les Bleus.
France midfielder N'Golo Kante winning the ball in Tuesday's semi-final against Belgium. At 1.68m, Kante may be one of the smallest players in Russia, but he has been colossal for Les Bleus.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Didier Deschamps was once derided as a water carrier by fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona, with the inference that a defensive midfielder exists only to relay the ball to more talented team-mates.

While defensive midfielders remain a less glamorous breed than the scoring strikers, creative playmakers and tricky wingers, there is no doubt that they have evolved into vital cogs who can lead their teams to success.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2018, with the headline ''15-lung' Kante the unsung hero'. Print Edition | Subscribe