Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante considers Didier Drogba to have been an inspiration in his meteoric rise up the football pyramid.
The 25-year-old was a largely unknown quantity prior to linking up with Leicester City in the summer of 2015, having spent much of his career to that point away from the spotlight.
He had been playing amateur football into his late teens, before gracing Ligue 2 with Boulogne and Caen.
In the space of 12 months, though, Kante went from being an unfamiliar face to a Premier League champion, member of France’s squad at a home European Championship and the subject of a £32 million switch to Stamford Bridge.
His career has rocketed at a remarkable rate, much like that of a man who graced the Blues before him – with Drogba having being plucked from obscurity to shine in France and make a big-money move to England.
"The professional world makes a lot of young amateurs dream, and to go from one to the other can inspire others, like me, when I heard stories of Didier Drogba and [France defender] Adil Rami, who went from being amateurs to becoming pros,” Kante told SFR.
"It was a source of strength, and told me that it was possible, even if you start from a long way off.
"My failures were something for me - my first contact with professional football.
"Though it didn't go all that well, it's not a regret, it's just like that.
"But looking back, those failures helped me consider football differently, consider the pro world differently.
"Perhaps I would have been different, I would have left my home earlier, my family, my friends. I grew up just as my friends did until 19 before leaving home, and it's because of that I'm who I am now."
Kante is now chasing down back-to-back Premier League titles, with a vital cog in a well-oiled Chelsea machine having helped Antonio Conte’s men to pull nine points clear at the top of the table.