Chelsea defender, Kalidou Koulibaly has finally revealed how being multicultural influenced him to become a better football player.
The Senegal international was born and brought up in France. He also represented France at the U20s level. Kouli has shared how his dual citizenship and a vibrant multicultural upbringing have helped him in life and in football.
“It was a big, big choice [to choose Senegal] 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,” Koulibaly said.
“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 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.’
“We had a good dynamic, a good spirit, and when you have that, it brings you a lot of good vibes. This helped us a lot because in difficult moments, you need to achieve something.”
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Looking back at his early days he recalls: “In France, we call this kind of home ‘HLM’ [habitation à loyer modéré, or ‘housing at moderate rent’]. It’s where everybody who comes from a modest family is living.
“All of my friends were living there too, how do you say, chilling out. Everybody was good with everybody.
“There were a lot of Senegalese people and I used to play with Turkish guys, Arabic guys, French. We were all together and this is the mix that I love. I grew up in this ambience and it was good for me, I would say because I was understanding things quicker – understanding things in normal life, but even on the pitch as well.”