N’Golo Kante has been voted Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association, edging out Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard.
As with the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award handed out last month, Kante and Hazard secured the first and second spots — with a combined 65 percent of the votes — while Tottenham midfielder and reigning PFA Young Player of the Year Dele Alli finished third.
Kante is currently poised to become the first outfield player since Eric Cantona to win consecutive top-flight league titles in England with different clubs, having played a key role in Leicester City’s fairytale triumph last season.
“It is a fantastic honour to win this award,” the 26-year-old told the FWA website. “With so many great players in this Chelsea squad and in the Premier League, for the Football Writers’ Association to name me their Footballer of the Year is a very proud moment in my career.”
The FWA revealed that a record 17 different players received votes for the award this season.
David Luiz, Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta were the other Chelsea players put forward, while Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester United’s injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic also garnered support.
FWA chairman Patrick Barclay added: “N’Golo Kante could not be a more deserving winner of English football’s most prestigious individual award.
“In the view of some FWA members, he would have been a worthy recipient last season for his contribution to Leicester’s title success, but the almost unbroken excellent form of Chelsea since he changed clubs has left little room for further debate.
“Considering the competition of Eden Hazard and other players from Chelsea in particular, this is a great achievement.”
Kante is only the fourth Chelsea player to be voted FWA Footballer of the Year in the 69-year history of the award, joining Gianfranco Zola in 1997, Frank Lampard in 2005 and Hazard in 2015. The last Frenchman to be honoured was Arsenal legend Thierry Henry in 2006.