Leicester City and Nigeria’s Wilfred Ndidi says he has always had confidence in himself and was never concerned about the comparison with his predecessor at the club N’Golo Kante.
Since joining Leicester in 2017 the 24-year-old has gradually established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
But that initial development was always against a backdrop of comparison to Chelsea’s Kante, who was an instrumental part of the Foxes’ title-winning team in 2015-16.
“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,” Ndidi told BBC Sport Africa.
“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 credited as a driving force behind Leicester’s push for a top-four place in the Premier League their FA Cup final spot.
The Nigerian is often asked to do a lot of selfless work in his position as he efficiently breaks up play and recovers possession, which allows Leicester’s manager Brendan Rodgers to be ambitious with his team selections.