Kulusevski and the years at Juventus: “I felt embarrassed, useless, with the feeling of having failed. Then the turning point at Tottenham”

With a heartfelt – and surprising – letter to Tottenham fans, Dejan Kulusevski takes the time to look back on his career so far and thank the England team and supporters. Because after going through a difficult period at Juventus, after finally settling in Italy, the Swede, now 23 years old, had to start all over again in London, with the Spurs coached at the time by Antonio Conte. Finding himself and responding to his sister's criticisms, which although “brutal”, are the only ones he listens to. Kulusevski's adventure in Italy began when he was just 16 and it was not easy. “In the first six months, I wanted to come home several times,” he confesses in the letter above. The Players' Tribune, “there was a problem with my registration and I also got injured, so I didn't play a match for a whole year. I lived in a small room with a bed, a television and a bathroom. I went to school seven hours a day, but I didn't understand anything, so I sat there and wrote nursery rhymes and football compositions, being bored to death. When I got home, I would watch TV or talk to my mother for hours. » Then he learned Italian and things improved, but after some poor performances in Serie A, he returned to Atalanta's under-19s. At this point, however, he was motivated to do his best, won the Primavera Championship and got noticed with Parma in Serie A. At that point, Juventus came calling.

The Juventus experience

Maybe it was too early, maybe the game system hadn't rewarded it, maybe it wasn't meant to be. The fact is that the Swedish winger has a lot of trouble seeing the field. And he begins to believe those who criticize him, he begins to believe that he is not a Serie A player. “I haven't started for Juventus for almost 6 months,” Kulusevski remembers, “you feel bad, because you've given your life playing at these levels, training as hard as you can, and you end up seeing players playing in your position who aren't even wingers. Honestly, I felt embarrassed, even useless. Some people started saying I wasn't good enough, that I was too slow. And it hits you 100%. It's normal, it's human. When it starts believe it, it really is the devil. Kulusevski only trusts the judgment of his older sister Sandra, and his own is equally ruthless: “Since when did you become weak?” He understands that he cannot stay in Turin, he needs a new team and a new environment where he can find his level again. And when the agent told him of Tottenham's interest, he literally took the first plane to London and signed with the English. He is on loan, he must earn his jersey and his confirmation. The beginnings, however, are not promising. “The Premier League is 300 times faster than any other league in the world and in the first training I didn't understand anything. The players passed by me, Conte shouted and pointed,” the striker continues, “I will never forget my first match: I went in with a 2-1 lead for us, in five minutes we We conceded two goals and lost the match”. He also did not shine in the next match, Spurs lost and he received a yellow card. But then he was chosen as a starter against Manchester City. “At after three minutes, I scored and it was as if 30 kilos fell from my shoulders,” writes Dejan, “in added time, at 2-2, I put in a cross for Harry, who scored nods. Everyone starts running towards him, but I'm on the other side, so I turn around, look at the fans and scream as loud as I can. That moment was one of the happiest in my life . It's the most alive thing I've ever felt in my life. I remember thinking: I don't care about anyone anymore. No one can tell me again that I can't play this game. No one can tell me what I can and can't do. » Except her sister Sandra: “She was also happy, she told me: “Your first good match in three months””.

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