Kalidou Koulibaly, a defender for Chelsea, has admitted that he chose Senegal over France because of their love for me.
The Chelsea center-back spent his early years in France, but he never lost sight of his African heritage, as evidenced by his choice to play for Senegal in his own international career.
“It was a big, big choice, because I could have played with the French national team, but at 23 or 24 years old I decided to play for Senegal, because they were waiting for me.
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“I spoke with the coach, he gave me good motivation and good reasons to come, and I also spoke with my family. The most important people were my parents – they told me that I have to do what I want, but when I told them that I wanted to play for the Senegal national team, I saw the light in their eyes and I knew it was a good choice.
“When I arrived and I saw the other players, it was like they were my family, because we were all used to eating the same things at home, to speaking the same language at home, so for me it was like I was home! I said to myself, ‘Why didn’t I come before? They are like my brothers ‘.”
A large, aggressive, quick and physically strong yet elegant player, Koulibaly is recognised for his aerial prowess, anticipation, positioning, tackling, character, technique and passing ability as a defender. He has also been praised by pundits for his overall solidity as a player and his ability to make interceptions; however, he has also drawn criticism for giving away too many fouls.
Due to his versatility, he can play both in his usual role as a central defender, or as a full-back on either the right or left flank, in both a three or four-man defence; he has even been deployed as a defensive midfielder. During his time at Napoli, his ability to play the ball out from the back saw him function as a ball-playing centre-back in manager Maurizio Sarri‘s attacking, possession based-system.