Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly thought Rafa Benitez’s Napoli call and Diego Armando Maradona wanting his shirt were “a prank.”
The Senegal international spoke to Orange Blog in his home country about his career and future prospects, but also how he almost didn’t make the move to the Stadio San Paolo.
“I hung up on Benitez two or three times, as I thought it was a friend of mine pulling a prank… I didn’t believe he would call me, but it was true. I was so embarrassed and kept apologising.
“That transfer was exactly what I needed. For a defender, there is no better place than Italy to develop tactically. I have made enormous progress in that area.”
Koulibaly also earned praise from Napoli legend Diego Armando Maradona, who declared the defender “would be playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid if he was white.”
Once again, K2 refused to believe this was really happening and that Maradona had asked the staff for his shirt.
“Maradona sent me a picture three days later of him with the shirt! I was thrilled. It proves everything is possible in life.”
Others were late to the Koulibaly party, for example Didier Deschamps, who said live on French television that he was monitoring the Napoli defender for a Bleus call-up.
He had forgotten that Koulibaly already made his senior international debut for Senegal.
“I know it caused Deschamps some problems and people made fun, so I felt quite bad for him. I was at home and some friends said they were talking about me on the TV. I again didn’t believe them and thought it was a joke.
“When I saw it, honestly, I mostly felt embarrassed for Deschamps. At least it proves that my hard work is getting me noticed.”
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