Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante have been recognised as the best in their positions following Chelsea’s incredible European triumph last season.
The duo were named as best goalkeeper and best midfielder respectively following a vote by leading managers and journalists across the continent, with the accolades announced during this evening’s Champions League draw in Istanbul.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel praised the contribution of two players who formed the spine of his history-making team, highlighting their personal impact to improve the collective.
‘It’s fantastic to see your players having rewards like this,’ he said.
‘It shows their individual potential and at the same time they are true team players and fantastic characters. I am very happy for them.’
Kante beat off competition from his Blues team-mate Jorginho, as well as Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
The Frenchman was the outstanding player in both legs of our semi-final victory against Real Madrid and put in another man-of-the-match performance in the final, during which he won more aerial duels than any Chelsea player and recorded the highest number of ball recoveries to disrupt City’s passing game.
Earlier in the knockout round, he had registered his 200th appearance for the club away to Atletico Madrid before catching the eye with a mind-boggling 94th-minute sprint from well inside his own half to create space for Emerson Palmieri to seal a fabulous victory at Stamford Bridge.
He was then named man of the match in the ‘home’ game against Porto in the quarter-final before twice dominating Real Madrid’s much vaunted midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro as we impressively booked our place in European football’s showpiece fixture.
Reflecting on receiving the award, Kante said: ‘I’m very pleased to have won this award.
‘It’s been the result of a great season last year in the Champions League and I want to thank all my team-mates and the club for getting me there.’
For Mendy, his maiden season in SW6 simply could not have gone any better. The Senegalese stopper was instrumental to our European success, with his impact highlighted by a record-breaking nine clean sheets en route to our late May final victory. No goalkeeper has recorded more shutouts in Europe’s elite competition in a debut season.
Composed, commanding and assured in the knockout round as the Blues brushed aside Atleti and Porto to reach the semi-finals, it was only a sensational acrobatic effort from Mehdi Taremi in the dying embers of our win over the Portuguese side that breached our net over those four matches.
Against Real, Mendy impressed again before putting in another solid display in his first showpiece final, including an early save to deny Raheem Sterling, which set the tone and spurred his outfield team-mates on to win the contest.
‘For me, it’s a beautiful thing to have this award,’ said Mendy on receiving the accolade. ‘But like I said before, we won this trophy, the Champions League, as a team and group.
‘I would like to thank my team-mates, my coach for the trust and my goalkeeper coaches Hilario and James Russell because we are always together. Of course, Willy Caballero and Kepa as well because they helped me a lot during the last season.
‘Now we look forward to the new season and we will try to do the same and even better if we can.’
European champions both, Edou and N’Golo now add prestigious individual prizes to an unforgettable 2020/21 campaign. A huge congratulations to them!