While the midfielder has chipped in with the occasional strike at club level, including three last season against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, his close-range finish on the rebound in Lisbon was his first in national team colours for four years.
Of course, during that time, he has helped Didier Deschamps’s men lift the World Cup, qualify for the delayed European Championship and now become the first team into the last four of the second edition Nations League finals.
The Parisian is practically a national hero in his homeland, cherished for his understated manner and selfless work. It is not often he takes centre stage but, having netted the only goal of a tight contest against Portugal, it was left to him to reflect on the result.
‘We knew we had to score to win, or a draw with us scoring would put us in a favourable position,’ Kante explained. ‘I didn’t know it was going to fall upon me but I am happy.