Todd Kane believed his chance to shine at Chelsea had finally arrived when Antonio Conte told him he would be part of his first-team plans upon the Italian coach’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.
On loan at NEC Nijmegen, the full-back had impressed during his season in Eredivisie and, at 22, felt ready to play his part for the club whom he had joined as an eight-year-old.
A cruel twist of fate, however, saw him pick up a knee injury that would rule him out of action for close to six months. By the time he was able to prove his fitness again his chance of making the senior Chelsea side had gone.
Conte had watched Kane on a number of occasions as he planned to take over in the Blues hotseat once he had overseen Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign, and with a penchant for playing three at the back saw the loanee as an ideal option to play as a right wing-back.
However, in the closing stages of Nijmegen’s match against PEC Zwolle towards the end of the campaign, Kane was stretchered from the field after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Chelsea moved on without him, with Conte instead reinventing Victor Moses as a wing-back as the west London outfit went onto win the Premier League title in 2017.
“That was the moment where I was close to making it,” Kane tells Goal .
“I had Michael Emenalo and Antonio Conte come to watch me ahead of taking over, against Ajax. They also watched me against Vitesse Arnhem.
“After that second game, they told me I was going to be involved in the first-team. Then, three or four months down the line I did my anterior cruciate ligament. I knew from that moment that it wasn’t going to happen for me at Chelsea.”