Koulibaly: 'Sarri is crazy...in a good way'

27 June at 17:20
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has shared a few of his secrets as a man and as a footballer on the great Players Tribune. At some point, he speaks about his relationship with Maurizio Sarri describing how the current Juve boss treated him the way his son was born:

Our manager at the time was Maurizio Sarri. He’s a very intense guy. So I didn’t want to answer the phone. Finally, I ran outside and picked up the phone and my wife said, “You have to come now. Our son is coming.”

I go to Sarri and I say, “Mister, I’m sorry but I have to go now! My son is coming!”

Sarri looks at me and says, “No, no, no. I need you tonight, Kouli. I really need you. You can’t go.”

I say, “This is the birth of my son, Mister. You can do whatever you want to me. Fine me, suspend me, I don’t care. I am going.”

Sarri looks so stressed, and he is smoking his cigarette. Smoking, smoking, thinking … then finally he says, “O.K., O.K., you can go to the clinic. But you have to be back for the match tonight. I need you, Kouli!”

I raced over to the clinic as fast as I could. If you have never been a father for the first time, then you cannot understand this feeling. You can’t miss the birth of your son. I arrived at the clinic at noon, and thank God, at 1:30, a little Neapolitan was born. We named him Seni. It was the happiest day of my life.

At 4 p.m., I got a call from Mr. Sarri. This guy … you just have to understand … he’s crazy. I say this in a good way, but he is crazy!

He says, “Kouli?! Are you coming back?! I need you! I really need you! Please!”

My wife was still resting, and she probably needed me, too. But I didn’t want to let my teammates down because I love them, really. And I love the city of Napoli. I got the blessing of my wife, and I went to the stadium. So then I am getting ready to play, and Sarri comes into the dressing room and puts up the team sheet. And I am looking … looking … looking….

My number is not there.

I said, “Mister! Are you kidding me?”

He said, “What? It is my choice.”

He put me on the bench!

He didn’t even start me!

I said, “Mister! My son! My wife! I left them! You said you needed me!”

He said, “Yes, we need you on the bench.”

All of this drama, and I am not even starting!

I think about this now, and I want to laugh. But at the time, I want to cry.

Maybe you think this is a negative story. But for me, this story is everything that I love about Napoli. If I have to explain it, then you won’t understand. It is like trying to explain a joke. You just have to come to the city and then you will feel it. It is crazy, yes. But it is warm.

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