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Kalidou Koulibaly: One of the Best Defenders in the Modern Game

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Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the best centre-backs in Europe. At one time, he was courted by several European clubs but decided to remain in Italy. The Senegalese received high praise for his ability to read the game and marshall the backline.

Unfortunately, the footballer has been subjected to racism. He has called for the banning of racist fans in stadiums, but little action has been taken. Additionally, Italian football authorities have a poor reputation for dealing with such incidents. 

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Here’s a review of the footballer’s career.

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Kalidou Koulibaly’s Childhood

Kalidou Koulibaly playing for Napoli. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

Koulibaly was born in France to Senegalese parents. They moved to Europe in search of a better life for their children. He attended the Vincent Auriol Elementary School during which he also started playing for his hometown team.

According to his former teacher, he was good in academics and balanced it well with sports. He played for SR Saint-Die for four years before joining Metz Academy. He moved between the two clubs until 2009 when he returned to Metz and was given his first professional contract.

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Koulibaly’s Professional Career

His performances at Metz were commendable, unlike during his first stint when they dropped him from the team and he returned to SR Saint-Die. The footballer won the U19 Coupe Gambardella and the junior Championnat de France Amateur.

After, he was promoted to the senior team and played for two years, making 41 appearances and a goal. After, he moved to Belgian club Genk where he established himself in the game. Koulibaly played 64 times here and won the Belgian Cup.

After years of proving his capabilities in defence, Italian club Napoli signed him in 2014. His long stay at the club was a sign of his and the club’s commitment to continue a successful partnership. 

The defender played over 200 times between 2014 and 2022, scoring 13 goals. He won Coppa Italia and the SuperCoppa Italiana.

After, he moved to Premier League side Chelsea and only stayed a season before he moved to Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League.

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International Career

Kalidou Koulibaly celebrating a goal for Senegal. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Like many footballers with dual nationality, Koulibaly started his international career in the country of his birth, France. He played in the U20 team between 2011 and 2012 before switching allegiance to Senegal. 

His first game was in an Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier (AFCON) match against Namibia. He has since played at the AFCON and the FIFA World Cup, making over 80 appearances.

Kalidou Koulibaly continues to write his footballing story in Saudi Arabia. He’s had a successful career already and still has more to offer. Perhaps, this isn’t his final stop and he might return to Europe.  

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