SENEGAL- In Saint-Die-des-Voges, France, Kalidou Koulibaly was born on 20 June 1991 to Senegalese parents.
It took his father five years to save up enough money for his mother to be able to go to France after he worked seven days a week in a textile mill in Senegal.
Growing up in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, he revealed that: “When you grow up in this environment, you see everyone as your brother. We are black, white, Arab, African, Muslim, Christian, yes — but we are all French. We are all hungry, so let’s go have a Turkish meal together. Or tonight, let’s all go to my house and eat Senegalese food. Yes, we have differences, but we are all equal.”
Koulibaly says his upbringing was “heavily influenced by the multi-cultural nature” growing up.
Koulibaly remembered when he first started playing football, saying: “All the kids were running around playing football with no shoes, and I was really upset by this, I guess. My mom says that I was begging her to go to the store and buy shoes for everybody, so I could play football with them.
But my mother said, “Kalidou, just take your shoes off. Go play as they do.” In the end, I threw off my shoes and went to play barefoot with my cousins — and this is where my football story begins. Upon returning to France, I played every day in the little park near our house. The young footballer began his career at SR Saint-Dié, a local club.
His first club was FC Metz, which he left at fifteen. According to the club’s Academy Manager, Denis Schaeffer, Koulibaly was released “because he was too introverted, and his level was below our expectations.”
As a professional footballer, Koulibaly plays as a center-back for Chelsea in the Premier League, as well as for Senegal at the national level.
On Tuesday Koulibaly timed his first international goal to perfection to send the Africa Cup of Nation’s champions through; as runners-up in Group A behind the Netherlands. Having eliminated Ecuador at the rowdy Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar, Doha, he sent Senegal into the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
As a result of the breakthrough, Senegal’s strengths and Ecuador’s weaknesses were perfectly encapsulated.
Having scored his first goal for his country at a crucial moment could not have come at a better time. An outstanding contribution from a captain.
Senegal lost out to Japan in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup because of a poor disciplinary record, but they have managed to overcome the odds in Qatar, in 2022.
Despite the absence of their best player Sadio Mane, Senegal still has enough quality in its squad to worry anyone in the knockout rounds.
Early Football Career of Kalidou Koulibaly
In 2010, Koulibaly began his professional career with Metz, before moving to Belgian club Genk in 2012, winning the Belgian Cup in his debut season. After joining Napoli in 2014, he won the Supercoppa Italiana title as well as the Coppa Italia in 2020.
Koulibaly was born in France to Senegalese parents, making him eligible to represent both nations at the international level. Initially, he played for the France national under-20 team. He then made his senior debut with Senegal in 2015 and was a member of the Senegal squad at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Senegal chose him to represent them at the 2018 FIFA World Cup the following year, and he helped them reach the African Cup of Nations final in 2019. In the final, Koulibaly and Senegal beat Egypt to win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.