Saturday Nov 20, 2021. 13:00
SSC Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly has insisted that he does not regret pledging his international allegiance to Senegal.
The world class centre back, who was born in France to parents of Senegalese descent, watched from home as France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Koulibaly represented France at the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals, but in September 2015, he changed federations and joined the Senegal national football team, despite the interest to call him for Les Bleus from France head coach Didier Deschamps.
“It’s a choice I’ve been thinking about for a whole year, whether to play with Senegal or France,” Koulibaly told Calciomercato.
“Then with the help of my parents, my friends the decision came almost naturally. When I’m with the other players I feel at home. I have never regretted it, not even in 2018 when France won the World Cup.
“Maybe if I had been there the cup would not have arrived, I believe in people’s destiny. They deserved it and I am very happy for France but I hope that one day I will raise it with Senegal.”
Koulibaly, who captained Senegal during their recent successful 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification second round campaign, explained the meaning of the Senegalese national team nickname, Lions of Teranga.
“Why are we the Lions of Teranga? Teranga is the land of welcome, everyone must feel at home. When a guest comes we want him to feel at home,” he continued.
“I was lucky enough to bring two Neapolitan friends to Senegal and when they arrived there they were surprised because they said ‘Look, they treat you better than they do with their families’.
“I told them that is the Teranga spirit, you have to feel like you are in your family, in your home. to say that our mission is accomplished”.
The 30-year-old has played 53 international matches for the Lions of Teranga.