N’Golo Kante has been the star of Chelsea’s Champions League success this season, with the ever-popular midfielder winning Man of the Match accolades in the semi-finals and the final.
Kante was exceptional as Manchester City were beaten 1-0 in the final at Porto, the France international in superb form with and without the ball, launching into challenges and throwing attacks for Chelsea with his industrious style while on the move.
The 30-year-old also became the sixth central midfielder to be named Man of the Match in a Champions League final since the turn of the century, and that’s the list of names the Frenchman has joined.
Here’s every central midfielder to be named Man of the Match in a Champions League final since 2000.
Zinedine Zidane (2002)
Real Madrid made Zinedine Zidane the most expensive player in football history when the Juventus midfielder signed to his Galactico regime in 2001, with the Spaniard’s record investment rewarded at the end of the midfielder’s first season.
Real’s collection of stars advanced to the Champions League final at Hampden Park, where they faced a side Bayer Leverkusen who upended the odds of reaching the centerpiece, knocking out both Liverpool and Manchester United.
Zidane was named man of the match after the full-time whistle at Scotland’s National Stadium, with his winning moment steeped in the history of the competition.
The game was set 1-1 as half-time approached after Lucio de Leverkusen called off Raul’s opener for Real Madrid, only for the summer signing to change the face of the clash with a perfect kick from his left boot.
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Roberto Carlos’ cross fell from the night sky towards the edge of the penalty area, where a waiting Zidane executed a volley of technical perfection to strike home a stunning strike from a distance.
It was a defining moment in the career of a great generation and a moment that made Zidane’s nomination as top pitch almost a formality.
Porto caused a seismic shock in the 2003/04 season as the Portuguese were crowned European champions, a talented team that ruffles the feathers under the guidance of young José Mourinho.
Mourinho’s side were strong defensively and possessed a work ethic that dominated more illustrious opponents, although the star of the team was undoubtedly Deco.
Deco was brilliant in a run to the final which included a round of 16 victory over Manchester United, finishing as the main Champions League support provider and arguably producing his best performance in the final victory. against his compatriots underdogs Monaco.
Deco led the show in a 3-0 victory and scored the second goal himself, sealing a shock European triumph for Porto before leaving that summer for Barcelona.
The Portugal international won a second Champions League trophy with the Catalans in 2006, before being part of a Chelsea side that won a domestic brace under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009/10.
Steven Gerrard (2005)
Steven Gerrard – alongside each of his Liverpool team-mates – was a long way from either team or individual accolades at half-time in the 2005 final, with the Reds looking down after an embarrassing 45-minute opening against AC Milan.
Rafael Benitez’s side were down 3-0 at the break, with Kaka lighting up the first half in Istanbul, before a second-half retaliation saw Liverpool miraculously emerge as champions.
Gerrard was the architect of their thrilling comeback as Liverpool equalized in just six frenzied minutes in the second half, scoring the Premier League first with an imposing header, before winning the penalty with Xabi Alonso equalized at the second attempt.
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The midfielder’s performance saw him bring Liverpool – not for the first time – back into the game, a period of incredible action that changed the narrative of a final the Reds captain initially struggled to impact .
Gerrard defended admirably the rest of the time as Liverpool clung to before winning on penalties, sealing their place in their childhood folklore.
Barcelona became European champions for the third time in the 2008/09 season, ending a historic triple-winning season under the guidance of novice coach Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola’s tenets included dominance of possession and in Xavi he had the perfect exponent of his philosophy, a metronomic figure at the heart of a Catalan midfielder who conquered the continent.
Barcelona outclassed the defending champions as Manchester United were beaten in Rome, Xavi at the heart of their success as he pulled the strings with effortless ease.
The Red Devils had won three consecutive Premier League titles and were looking to become the first team to defend the trophy in the Champions League era, but did not make any matches as Xavi and his midfielder Andres Iniesta cut their defensive lines with haunting simplicity.
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Xavi led the final from start to finish and provided the assist for Barcelona’s second goal, a brilliant performance which was met by Lionel Messi for the rarest header efforts.
Andres Iniesta (2015)
Andres Iniesta has often been at the heart of Barcelona’s best performances and rarely more than the 2015 Champions League final, the midfielder orchestrating the game with the principles of passing and movement that saw the Spaniards conquer Europe.
Iniesta assisted Ivan Rakitic’s opener after just four minutes against Juventus, as Barcelona sealed a 3-1 victory in Berlin and a second continental treble.
The Spanish midfielder became the first player in history to score a goal in three separate finals, having also achieved the feat in Barcelona’s last successes against Manchester United in 2009 and 2011.
The victory saw the Catalans win the Champions League alongside La Liga and Copa del Rey successes, with Luis Enrique’s side equaling the achievements of Pep Guardiola’s historic side in 2008/09.
Iniesta’s man of the match performance also saw the midfielder achieve a unique hat-trick, having also been named the best player on the pitch in the 2010 World Cup final and the Championship final. ‘Europe 2012.
N’Golo Kanté (2021)
N’Golo Kante has joined this exclusive roster of players after her remarkable performance in Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City, the west London side were crowned European champions for the second time in Porto.
Few expected Chelsea to reach the later stages of the competition, but the arrival of Thomas Tuchel as head coach saw the Blues grow into a formidable defensive team.
Tuchel’s move to a three-way system has brought a new sense of solidity to Chelsea, with their defense guarded by one of the best defensive midfielders of their generation at Kante.
The France international has collected Premier League and World Cup winners’ medals in recent seasons and has now added the Champions League to his burgeoning collection, its impact evident in the successes of the club and the country.
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Kante thrives in reclaiming and recycling possession with his renowned tireless style, despite being much more than just a destroyer as Manchester City discovered the hard way during a relentless energy performance. and in advance.
Read – Every manager wins the Champions League with a Premier League club
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