Interview

Friends reunited

It’s always special meeting up with an old friend. Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly became close during their time together at Napoli, both arriving in 2014 and playing in the same side until the Italian’s departure for Chelsea in 2018. With Koulibaly having also joined the Blues this summer, here they catch up on Naples, Jorginho’s trophy haul and the Senegal captain’s new life in London

PHOTOGRAPHY Darren Walsh

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

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KK: I’m so proud of you when I think of the difference between the boy who left Napoli and the player you are today. People who said you were only here thanks to [former Chelsea manager Maurizio] Sarri didn’t understand anything. You’ve earned your respect.

J: Well, thank you and I also want to thank Sarri. I feel a lot of affection for him because we had a wonderful journey together. I came here thanks to him. After those rumours started, of course I was a little bothered, but I always try to look on the bright side and change people’s perception of me. So I said to myself, “These people are wrong about me and it’s not fair.” Both in football and in life it’s all about the facts, not the words. You can demonstrate that on the pitch; that’s what I’ve always tried to do. It made me laugh when you arrived and said, “You haven’t changed at all.”

KK: But it’s true, nothing has changed since you left Napoli. When I arrive in the dressing room, the first voice I hear is yours saying, “Hey!” 

J: Yes, that’s me.

KK: You’ve won the Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea. I want to know what winning those two trophies meant to you.

J: It’s something we all dream about; taking part in the Champions League – when you reach that point you say to yourself, “Is this really happening?” You get to the final and the night before, it’s all you can think about – that moment when you’ll raise the trophy, when the game ends it starts to dawn on you what has just happened. I swear, Kouli, you get the shivers…

KK: I believe you.

J: In that exact moment it’s like you’re in another world. You don’t understand where you are. As time goes on, you realise how difficult it is to win a Champions League, so you appreciate it even more and you’re so happy. It’s an unforgettable moment for you, your family, your friends, your children. It’s simply incredible.

KK: When you left Napoli, you didn’t speak English at all.

J: That’s not true!

KK: Let’s be honest: you didn’t. I was like, “He’s going to London like this, what’s he going to do?” Then I’ve arrived and you can speak so much better; you only speak English. You even speak English to me! I actually need your help, because I need some English classes.

J: I’ll teach you! But you speak English better than me, what are you on about?

KK: No, come on, my English isn’t great. On the pitch I let some Italian words slip. You must have heard them: “Solo! Solo! Girati!” [You’re alone! Turn around!]

J: I’m pretty open-minded and I like learning new things. When I learn something new, I want to do things right. Whether it’s a new language, something concerning football or even something in my personal life, I want to learn it as best as I can. When I came here I barely knew a word of English. It was just, “Hey. Bye. Hey. Bye. OK, yeah, good.” Then I decided I had to learn. I used to try to only get massages from the English physiotherapists, so I had the opportunity to start talking and understanding as much as I could. I’d talk to the kit men, the chef. Thanks to that I started understanding much more. There was a guy here, Lucas Piazon, who had been here for many years. He’s Brazilian but he could already speak English perfectly, so I asked him loads of questions and he taught me a lot.

KK: Just like me when I came to Naples.

J: Yes, that’s right! So everything started from there, as a joke. Well, not as a joke, because I enjoy it. I tried to learn things using an English accent, you know, like in the Neapolitan dialect: “Com’ va guaglio?” [How’s it going, mate?] So, by playing around and talking to the guys, I tried my best to learn English. Hopefully picking up the right accent, but also having fun with it.

“We’ll take a day off together. We’ll go back to Naples and eat lots of good pizza there”

KK: Now you speak English really well – an expert in London life. I’ve already taken your house and you’ve recommended two Italian restaurants to me but I still need your help.

J: I’m putting you on the right path. I’ve just got a couple more restaurants you should go to, and I will also take you to the theatre.

KK: I’ll definitely come with you – you know that.

J: Yes. London has loads to offer. You’ll really like it, because everything you want to do…

KK: …You can do it.

J: You can do it, because in London you’re spoilt for choice. And if you go somewhere and don’t call me, you know I’ll get really angry!

KK: I don’t go anywhere without sending you a message beforehand, you must know that.

J: Good, So you can call me and we’ll go
out together.

KK: OK, but just one thing: we have to go back to Naples together!

J: Yes, we definitely do. We’ll take a day off together. We’ll go back to Naples and eat lots of good pizza there.

KK: When you left I missed you a lot, because we were always together, our families were always together. You know, at the beginning, it did hurt a bit when I went into the changing room and you weren’t there. We used to be inseparable. But didn’t you miss me a little bit?

J: Do you want the truth?

KK: No, lie, that’s fine…

J: OK, I’ll lie. Seriously though, when I left… There’s a local saying: “When you go to Naples you cry twice: once when you get there and even more when you leave.” When I left Naples I was crying, because I made my life there and I really loved everyone. I had such a great time with my team-mates. Our friendship was in the changing room, in everyday life. We went out together; we also spent time together with our families. When you start a new chapter in life, at first everything is beautiful – it’s new and exciting. Then, after a while, I used to go into the changing room and think, “Where is my brother?” You know, I missed having a laugh and making fun of you. Fortunately we’ve always been in touch, and now we’ll be even more in touch, so…

KK: …Now you’ll have to deal with me every day.

J: You missed me a lot but now you’ll have to deal with me, because I’ll really wind you up! 

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

Friends reunited
Interview

Friends reunited

It’s always special meeting up with an old friend. Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly became close during their time together at Napoli, both arriving in 2014 and playing in the same side until the Italian’s departure for Chelsea in 2018. With Koulibaly having also joined the Blues this summer, here they catch up on Naples, Jorginho’s trophy haul and the Senegal captain’s new life in London

PHOTOGRAPHY Darren Walsh

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

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KK: I’m so proud of you when I think of the difference between the boy who left Napoli and the player you are today. People who said you were only here thanks to [former Chelsea manager Maurizio] Sarri didn’t understand anything. You’ve earned your respect.

J: Well, thank you and I also want to thank Sarri. I feel a lot of affection for him because we had a wonderful journey together. I came here thanks to him. After those rumours started, of course I was a little bothered, but I always try to look on the bright side and change people’s perception of me. So I said to myself, “These people are wrong about me and it’s not fair.” Both in football and in life it’s all about the facts, not the words. You can demonstrate that on the pitch; that’s what I’ve always tried to do. It made me laugh when you arrived and said, “You haven’t changed at all.”

KK: But it’s true, nothing has changed since you left Napoli. When I arrive in the dressing room, the first voice I hear is yours saying, “Hey!” 

J: Yes, that’s me.

KK: You’ve won the Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea. I want to know what winning those two trophies meant to you.

J: It’s something we all dream about; taking part in the Champions League – when you reach that point you say to yourself, “Is this really happening?” You get to the final and the night before, it’s all you can think about – that moment when you’ll raise the trophy, when the game ends it starts to dawn on you what has just happened. I swear, Kouli, you get the shivers…

KK: I believe you.

J: In that exact moment it’s like you’re in another world. You don’t understand where you are. As time goes on, you realise how difficult it is to win a Champions League, so you appreciate it even more and you’re so happy. It’s an unforgettable moment for you, your family, your friends, your children. It’s simply incredible.

KK: When you left Napoli, you didn’t speak English at all.

J: That’s not true!

KK: Let’s be honest: you didn’t. I was like, “He’s going to London like this, what’s he going to do?” Then I’ve arrived and you can speak so much better; you only speak English. You even speak English to me! I actually need your help, because I need some English classes.

J: I’ll teach you! But you speak English better than me, what are you on about?

KK: No, come on, my English isn’t great. On the pitch I let some Italian words slip. You must have heard them: “Solo! Solo! Girati!” [You’re alone! Turn around!]

J: I’m pretty open-minded and I like learning new things. When I learn something new, I want to do things right. Whether it’s a new language, something concerning football or even something in my personal life, I want to learn it as best as I can. When I came here I barely knew a word of English. It was just, “Hey. Bye. Hey. Bye. OK, yeah, good.” Then I decided I had to learn. I used to try to only get massages from the English physiotherapists, so I had the opportunity to start talking and understanding as much as I could. I’d talk to the kit men, the chef. Thanks to that I started understanding much more. There was a guy here, Lucas Piazon, who had been here for many years. He’s Brazilian but he could already speak English perfectly, so I asked him loads of questions and he taught me a lot.

KK: Just like me when I came to Naples.

J: Yes, that’s right! So everything started from there, as a joke. Well, not as a joke, because I enjoy it. I tried to learn things using an English accent, you know, like in the Neapolitan dialect: “Com’ va guaglio?” [How’s it going, mate?] So, by playing around and talking to the guys, I tried my best to learn English. Hopefully picking up the right accent, but also having fun with it.

“We’ll take a day off together. We’ll go back to Naples and eat lots of good pizza there”

KK: Now you speak English really well – an expert in London life. I’ve already taken your house and you’ve recommended two Italian restaurants to me but I still need your help.

J: I’m putting you on the right path. I’ve just got a couple more restaurants you should go to, and I will also take you to the theatre.

KK: I’ll definitely come with you – you know that.

J: Yes. London has loads to offer. You’ll really like it, because everything you want to do…

KK: …You can do it.

J: You can do it, because in London you’re spoilt for choice. And if you go somewhere and don’t call me, you know I’ll get really angry!

KK: I don’t go anywhere without sending you a message beforehand, you must know that.

J: Good, So you can call me and we’ll go
out together.

KK: OK, but just one thing: we have to go back to Naples together!

J: Yes, we definitely do. We’ll take a day off together. We’ll go back to Naples and eat lots of good pizza there.

KK: When you left I missed you a lot, because we were always together, our families were always together. You know, at the beginning, it did hurt a bit when I went into the changing room and you weren’t there. We used to be inseparable. But didn’t you miss me a little bit?

J: Do you want the truth?

KK: No, lie, that’s fine…

J: OK, I’ll lie. Seriously though, when I left… There’s a local saying: “When you go to Naples you cry twice: once when you get there and even more when you leave.” When I left Naples I was crying, because I made my life there and I really loved everyone. I had such a great time with my team-mates. Our friendship was in the changing room, in everyday life. We went out together; we also spent time together with our families. When you start a new chapter in life, at first everything is beautiful – it’s new and exciting. Then, after a while, I used to go into the changing room and think, “Where is my brother?” You know, I missed having a laugh and making fun of you. Fortunately we’ve always been in touch, and now we’ll be even more in touch, so…

KK: …Now you’ll have to deal with me every day.

J: You missed me a lot but now you’ll have to deal with me, because I’ll really wind you up! 

Jorginho: I don’t know where to start. First of all, thanks for–

Kalidou Koulibaly: Hang on, hang on – aren’t you happy I’m here already?

J: Oh yes, I’m incredibly happy, you’ve even brought the sunny weather with you from Naples! Anyway, what made you decide to join Chelsea?

KK: It was you. You’ve been pestering me since June, maybe March. Spamming me with texts, begging me to join the club…

J: Did I really play a part in this?

KK: Yes, you helped make it happen. I’ve had conversations with you and Édou [Mendy] and you both had great things to say about the club and its supporters. And before you left Napoli, I promised we’d play together again someday.

J: That’s true.

KK: So that was definitely one of the reasons I made this decision. Plus, in my heart I had already decided I wanted to join. I had already been keeping up to date with the team and when I saw you guys winning the Champions League, I felt I was joining the right team at the right moment. 

J: You’re going to make me cry [both laugh]. So what are your first impressions? And how are you finding London so far?

KK: I’ve been really impressed by everything. The rest of the team made me feel at home right from the start, especially you, Édou and Thia [Thiago Silva]. I felt like I was a kid in a toy store. Also, the training ground here in Cobham far exceeded my expectations. I kept thinking, “I’m glad I decided to come here.” I’ve been getting to know the other players, who are truly great guys. In a way I feel like I never left Napoli: everyone gets along, everyone is very happy and chill. It feels more like a family than a football team. As for the city, I’m getting to know it bit by bit. 

J: We still need to go to dinner together.

KK: I’m waiting for you to invite me! We need to decide who’s paying.

J: I did invite you, but you kept saying you were busy.

KK: Then I’ll wait for another invitation.

Jorginho and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli team-mates, in 2018

J: You’re paying though.

KK: Maybe we can just split the bill?

J: Alright, alright. I tried.

KK: Plus, I haven’t found that many places to eat yet. You gave me a couple of recommendations. Moving somewhere new, but close to old friends who are able to give you some useful tips and advice, is a great advantage. I even bought the house you used to live in.

J: You’re following in my footsteps. Bravo.

KK: That’s exactly what I’m doing, because I really want to win the Champions League. So I’m trying to follow your example.

J: You’ll win it. I’m sure. 

KK: We’ll win it.

J: Right, we’ll win it. What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all the memories of Naples and your friends? 

KK: It was very difficult. I’m sure you experienced the same when you left. We pretty much arrived together, just a few months apart, and then the city helped us grow. I became the player that I am today thanks to that city, because it helped me to blossom. I love the people, who all made me feel so at home. Everyone came to love me in the end. 

J: How is it possible not to love you? 

KK: During my final year there were 15 people outside my house waiting to take photos of me after the match…

J: What do you think you are going to miss most about the city of Naples? 

KK: The warmth of the Neapolitan people. We had a special relationship. They loved me but I really loved them too, and I tried my best to demonstrate this during matches. I don’t know how I could possibly have done any more than what I’d already done. I just want to thank them, because I know that if I go back and visit I will always be loved – and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s all I ever wanted to leave behind: good memories.

J: That’s exactly what you did. You showed all of that and more on the field.  

KK: Thank you. So my brother, since you left Napoli you have accomplished so many things. Now I’d love to hear a recap from you too.

J: Well, it was a long journey: four years, four seasons. When I arrived here I was just like you: like a little child who had signed with a strong team who had already won everything. Those years were special to me, not least because two of my children were born here. But it wasn’t easy: the first year we were winning and everything looked good, but then so many things happened. I had to put in a lot of work to gain everyone’s respect. Trophies and victories are, of course, the things I will always remember. I’m sure that we will win together, and you will have these memories too. 

Penalty Pedigree

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