Leicester City and Nigeria midfielder Wilfred Ndidi says he has always had confidence in himself and was never affected by the comparison drawn with his predecessor at N’Golo Kante.
Since joining Leicester in 2017, the 24-year-old has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
Ndidi was asked about the comparisons drawn by many between him and Kante and he said, “Yes it [comparison] used to irritate me but it’s football and I completely understand the fans because they love to find something to talk about.”
“Even before and then when I arrived at Leicester, I heard it. I only wanted to be Wilfred Ndidi and not someone else.
“I focus on myself, I am always critical of myself, I do my best to improve as a footballer game by game and giving my best for my club.
“The comparison with others, about who is better or if Kante and I play alike, is irrelevant to me. I think all that comparison was for those who love to talk and I didn’t focus on it.
“You’re comfortable when you are yourself and not listening or trying to be something you are not.”
This season, he has been one of the key players for the Foxes and the Nigerian deserves credit for his role in pushing Brendan Rodgers’ side amongst the elite teams in English football.
They are currently comfortably sat in third in the Premier League and are all set to face Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
Despite earning regular plaudits for his qualities as the ball-winner in the middle of the park, protecting the defence and allowing the attacking players to thrive, the Foxes midfielder is very humble and focused.
“I just love to give my best and when the media talk about it, that’s good for the team,” he said.
“I am not someone chasing personal glory or get distracted because of the praises or criticism, you’ll get both in football anyway.
“My job is helping the team. Doing everything I can to get three points and victory for the club, which is very important.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to play in the Premier League and chance to enjoy my game at a club like Leicester, where no player is more important than the team.
“I make a contribution like everyone else in the squad and if that helps us to achieve our collective effort, then I am happy to play my part.”
Ndidi has already made 140 appearances for Leicester City, scoring seven goals and providing eights assists in the Premier League since joining from Genk for £15m in early 2017.
At the international level, he represented Nigeria at the under-17 and under-20 level, before making his senior debut in a friendly against DR Congo in October 2015.
Ndidi has since been capped 38 times for his country including three times at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and helped the Super Eagles finish third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.