MAH: Hi Frank, great to get chatting to you as part of our A-Z series. So, it’s widely known that Kante is your favourite player at Chelsea. Can you go into detail about why that is?
Khalid: Hi Matisse! Well, several reasons why Ngolo Kante is my favourite player. Firstly, he’s a world class footballer, but it’s Kante the friend who is amazing. He cares for people and he puts others before himself. I only met Ngolo a few times and I wouldn’t say we were close, but when he heard I was in hospital recovering from my triple bypass operation, he especially made time to come and see me. These days footballers don’t have time to say hello, but he actually cared to visit me and spent a few hours with me and my family just 3 days before the 2018 FA cup final. Amazing player and even more amazing kind person.
MAH: To expand, what was it like for him to attend your daughter’s wedding? Surely an incredible experience.
Khalid: Ngolo is a nice person who never says no to anyone. He puts others first before himself. He’s not a money oriented person like so many footballers. He’s a very shy person and for him to come to my daughters wedding was a big thing. He mixed with everyone & was more than happy for selfies and autographs. His got a great sense of humour & is always smiling. Just an amazing friend.
MAH: Everything you described is certainly apparent in his mannerisms, a very humble individual. So, what have you made of him this this season, of course he’s had a lot of setbacks with injury, do you believe he can get back to his best?
Khalid: To be honest, if someone said to Harry Kane to play centre half, then he wouldn’t perform to his best. Ngolo has been played out of position the last 2 years & as a result has not been able to play at his best. Injuries have not helped, form is temporary but class is permanent.
MAH: It’s certainly been a controversial topic in regards to his position. For me, best as part of a double pivot but I have seen the benefits of him playing RCM in a 3 man midfield. Credit to him for improving the attacking aspect of his game. To expand, many people are open to the idea of selling Kante with his recent injures, with the belief of ‘every player has their price. Is there a certain amount you would accept?
Khalid: I would never sell him. There are very few or no world class players at Chelsea who are in the top 10 players in world. Ngolo is in the top 10 and we need to play him in his right position and get the best out of him. We have conceded way to many goals and need him back as our defensive midfielder. Would be a mistake to sell him at any price.
MAH: I personally believe every player has there price but I 100% agree with you that he is world class, it takes time to earn that status and I don’t believe it should be taken away so quickly. Moving on to you personally, When did you start supporting Chelsea, and was their a particular moment you knew you were a blue?
Khalid: I started supporting Chelsea in 1976. Reason why I supported Chelsea was because several of my class mates were Chelsea fans & I decided to support them. Chelsea at that time were a team that were in the 2nd division, so I wasn’t a glory hunter like so many fans of other clubs. I also loved the kit they wore.
MAH: Loving the dig at Manchester United fans, keep them coming haha. So, when was the first time you saw Kante live and did he live up to your expectations?
Khalid: I met Kante in 2017 at Cobham training ground. My friend who is one of the coaches there invited me and introduced me to Ngolo.
MAH: So following on from that how did you get into the position of being able to meet so many Chelsea players? (Other than Kante) who’s been a great personality to hang out with?
Khalid: I have several links. Firstly, one of the coaches at Chelsea knows me well. I’m friends with the Brazilian players who dine at my restaurant and shop at my cash and carry; friends with John Terry; I’m close with Demba Ba who connected me with Eden Hazard, and, because I visit the training ground, Cesar Azpi has become close to me as well as some of the English players. I know Reece James dad well and Callum Hudson Odoi’s brother. I can go on forever but have several links.
MAH: I’d be no stranger to joining on one of these training ground adventures haha I’ll drop my whatsapp after this interview. Keeping the theme Kante, which performance do you feel was Kante’s best in a Chelsea shirt?
Khalid: Ngolo in that 4-0 hammering against Man Utd when he scored as well against Jose Mourinhos team stands out. He was brilliant against Barcelona away, but we lost that game.
MAH: Another Man United reference, I’m fulfilled. I guess the standard follow up question is, which goal do you feel was Kante’s best in a Chelsea shirt?
Khalid: Ngolo goal against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge this season was the best goal Ngolo has scored.
MAH: Couldn’t agree more, skill, technique and composure. Finally, if Kante does move on this summer, which club do you see him going to?
Khalid: I hope he doesn’t move, but if he does, I feel it will only be for Real Madrid and no one else.
MAH: Thanks for talking to us at All Things Chelsea, Frank it’s been a pleasure. To the readers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview and you can search many more with the likes of Alex Goldberg, Simon Phillips, and former player Paul Canoville. There’ll be many more to come. Thanks for stopping by, #StayHomeSaveLives.