The story of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: from being a total unknown to becoming “Kvaradona”, a pillar in the Napoli title and wanted by Real Madrid

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, one of the great figures of Scudetto champion Napoli (REUTERS/Ciro De Luca) (CIRO DE LUCA/)

They used to worry that the Adjarabet Arena, with its winding arches and illuminated exterior, became something of a white elephant. After all, batumi it is a picturesque tourist town; I didn’t really need a stadium with a capacity for 20,000 viewers. He Dynamo, the football team that called it home, typically required seating for only half that many people. But when it came Khvicha Kvaratskhelia everything changed.

“The city was ignorant of football,” he said. Tariel Varshanidze, a prominent voice of the home team’s fan scene. “The atmosphere changed drastically”. The parties in the Erovnuli Leaguethe highest football category of the system of Georgiasuddenly they had the same air as the “best matches in the Champions League. It was fantastic,” she added.

In the three months that Kvaratskhelia step in batumi all tickets were sold out. Tourists flocking to the Black Sea beaches added a game to their itineraries. Friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances began asking regular attendees for extra tickets, whether they were Dinamo fans, some other team or no one.

According to Varshanidzeduring the matches, the whole stadium celebrated every time Kvaratskhelia touched the ball, even the fans who in theory came to support the opposing team. And not only in Batumi. “We had full stadiums in almost every city”commented George Geguchadzethe coach of Dynamo. All Georgia I wanted to see the new star. Even at matches held in the backwaters of the country, in stadiums that in normal times could draw a few hundred spectators, tickets were sold out.

It was no surprise. Kvaratskhelia had reached batumi as an enshrined national icon. She had blossomed as a sensation 16 years in it Dynamo Tbilisi, the most important club in the country. By the time he made his debut for his team, just two years later, the Georgian league had outgrown himso he moved to Russia to join the locomotive moscow and then to Rubin Kazan. The brief, unexpected opportunity to see him in person again—after she was able to void her contract following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine—was too good an opportunity to pass up.

What few could have anticipated was how fast and how far the mania was going to spread. Barely six months later, the fame of the striker of 21 years has spread beyond Georgia. A single season was enough to make viewers fall in love with the italian soccer and be one of the figures in the historic path in the Champions League.

Along with Osimhen, they dominated Serie A from end to end (Photo: AP)
Together with Osimhen, they dominated Serie A from end to end (Photo: AP) (Massimo Paolone/)

The numbers highlight his enormous productions: since he arrived at Napoli for a few €11 million, Kvaratskhelia has garnered 12 goals and 10 assists in the A series for his team to be crowned champion for the first time since the 1989/90 season. “I offered it in many of the top clubs. They did not trust a Georgian and the scouting area failed. He was available on the market and that’s what happened.”exposed his agent Christian Emile to the skeptics, who today must be lamenting to see their level.

His trainer, Luciano Spallettihas described Kvaratskhelia as “stratospheric”. arrigo sacchithe former coach of the Italian national team and Milan, prefers the word “devastating”. A legend like Alessandro del Piero suggested that it seemed as if he was “made to play in europe”. The excellent performance came to raise the interest of big clubs on the continent such as real Madrid and several of the premier league.

Napoli fans gave him their highest honor, nicknamed him Kvaradona, for the most beloved popular idol in the club’s history. However, perhaps the most revealing testimony belongs to Fabrizio Ravanelli, the former forward of the Juventus. After Napoli beat Milan on matchday seven, Ravanelli admitted that he had been captivated Kvaratskhelia and Rafael Leão. “In the world, there are fewer and fewer players like them“, considered.

That sense of weirdness is at the root of the appeal of Kvaratskhelia. He is the kind of player that modern football no longer produces, with its industrialized youth system and stylistic templates: volatile and intuitive, with a hint of nonconformity, somewhat indomitable.

Willy Sagnol, the coach of the national team Georgiahas suggested that his closest parallel would be a young Franck Ribery, the crack of Bayern Munichbut it is not an exact comparison. Kvaratskhelia he is taller, more languid, less easy to categorize. The Frenchman was a threatening and decisive player that he wanted, most of the time, to cut inside.

For Levan Kobiashvili, president of the Georgia soccer federation, his strength is his “unpredictability”. The manager objects to the idea that it is the “continuation of any process”. Georgia may have a rich history of producing virtuoso attackers —particularly the former midfielder Manchester City and the Ajax Georgi Kinkladze-, but Kvaratskhelia is just a product of her own talent.

Others are not so sure. “Has some aspects that are very Georgian”, he opined Andres Carrascothe Spanish director of youth development at the Dynamo Tbilisi, the club that discovered the rising star. “Tends not to worry if something doesn’t work. Don’t think about the negative consequences. That’s how many attackers are here. They are daring. They are bold. They’re a bit anarchic.”

Napoli welcomed him as their new figure (Photo: REUTERS/Ciro De Luca)
Napoli welcomed him as their new figure (Photo: REUTERS/Ciro De Luca) (CIRO DE LUCA/)

In batumias in all Georgiasoccer fans have followed the burst of stardom of Kvaratskhelia with the same avidity that they did when he was a player of the Dynamo Batumi for a short period, in which lived in a hotel not far from the stadium. The new Napoli Scudetto has paralyzed the country. “Everyone gathered around the TV to watch their matches.”, commented Kobiashvili, who is one of the most decorated players in Georgian history. “I can’t remember anything like it”, he added.

However, Kobiashvilias carrascoit does not take long to emphasize that Kvaratskhelia you are not alone. Georgian football is on the rise. When Kobiashvili took over as president of the Georgian Football Federation in 2015, the country was languishing.”more or less in the 150th place of the FIFA rankingKobiashvili commented.

However, its performance in Champions League It has been even more impressive, albeit with an early start compared to expectations. Georgia She has been promoted twice—at first, from the lowest division of the competition to her third and then, this summer, to her second—meaning that in the next edition of the tournament she will play at the same level as England. “Just a few years ago, kids in Georgia aspired to be the next Lionel Messi or the next Cristiano RonaldoKobiashvili commented. “Now everyone dreams of being the future Kvaratskhelia, because it has transformed the entire football culture in Georgia”, he concluded.

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