Kalidou Koulibaly, a defender for Chelsea, explained why he chose Senegal over France to compete internationally.
The center-back was born and raised in France, but because his parents are from that country, he is qualified to represent the continent. He made the choice to move to Senegal in his early 20s because the nation wanted to call him up and has never looked back.
Koulibaly said, “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,” he told Chelsea’s website. “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’.”
The defender has received on-field success as compensation for choosing to represent Senegal. Prior to eventually winning a medal in the competition’s 2021 iteration, he assisted the national team in finishing second in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. He has 62 appearances and has been named Senegal’s captain.
The former Napoli player, Kalidou Koulibaly will be hoping for his opportunity on Saturday when his team plays Crystal Palace in an effort to persuade new Chelsea manager Graham Potter that he merits a spot in the starting XI.