Kalidou Koulibaly recalls Maurizio Sarri demands hours after birth of his son
Last Updated: 27/06/19 10:54pm
Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed a "very intense" Maurizio Sarri once dragged him away from his wife and hours-old son only to name him on the bench for Napoli.
The 28-year-old, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League, recalled the story of the birth of his son in January 2016 and how he had to plead with then-Napoli boss Sarri to go to the hospital to be with his wife.
He said he was in a video analysis session before a home clash with Sassuolo later that night when his wife rang numerous times. Koulibaly said he did not want to answer as Sarri is "a very intense guy" but eventually he did and was told to get to the hospital, much to the Italian's disappointment.
"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'," he wrote in The Players' Tribune.
"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, 'Ok, Ok, 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."
However, Koulibaly revealed it was not long before the former Chelsea head coach was on the phone looking for him to rejoin the squad for the game.
"At 4pm, 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."