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Kvaratskhelia: From Painting Guti’s Number 14 on Shirts to Being Maradona’s Heir in Italy

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Anyone would think that with the confidence and quality that Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Tbilisi, 2001) radiates on the pitch, she would be a shy and very suspicious person in her privacy. Grandson and son of a soccer player, he followed in the footsteps marked by his ascendancy. Raised in rural Georgia, he began hitting balls barefoot on the banks of a creek near his house. Now, years later, he is already an international star who is nicknamed Kvaradona because of his similarities to the iconic Diego Maradona when it comes to dribbling.

Those who know him describe him as a good person, a likeable guy, who is capable of being a good team player and, above all, very professional. “ He was a shy boy who lived for football. From a young age he was fully focused on this sport , which today is more than just a job for him. That is why his dribbling, his play, his running and his acceleration are so joyful,” recalls Levan Salukvadze, former president of Dinamo Tbilisi.

” He never missed a single training session . He was an example for the team as a talented and extremely determined player who always did everything to win,” said Teimuraz Ugrekhelidze, who worked as a scout for the club.

Kvaratskhelia started in the team’s academy at the age of 11 and, in 2017, began his senior career with the club. Although management feared that he was not physically ready to play with the professionals, he did not disappoint. ” They recommended that I wait a couple of years to add him to the team, but I told them that in two years he would play for Liverpool or Real Madrid ,” adds Salukvadze. He was confused about the team, but not about the feeling. Because if today we can enjoy Khvicha it is precisely thanks to an unexpected former member of the white team. ” I love football because of Guti ,” the Georgian has admitted on many occasions.

From Painting Guti’s Number 14 on Shirts to Being Maradona’s Heir in Italy.

In an interview with Corriere dello Sport he said that, as a child, he used to write the Spaniard’s name and number on the back of a white shirt with a pen . Real Madrid shirts were not yet available in Georgia, but nothing prevented him from trying to emulate his gestures and his moves on the streets of the city.

His grandfather Mamia and father Badri were successful footballers in Georgia. His grandmother, Dunia, had no choice but to become a fan. She though she did it her way. She always wanted the matches to end in a draw, so that no one would be offended. Until her grandson began to succeed. Since he arrived at Naples, and before each game, she made the sign of the cross on television and dedicated a prayer to him so that he would win.

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They must have worked, because in the forward’s first year in Italy he became Serie A champion with Napoli. He no longer wore the number 14 on his back, but rather the number 77 in honor of his other idol, Cristiano Ronaldo. Dunia, Kvaratskhelia’s amulet, passed away in January.

Although the level has dropped this season, it is very evident that Napoli have an innate talent in their hands. “He is able to control any ball and leave it clean. He has a very shy way of doing things, he never wants to be the centre of attention, but when he plays football he is very confident,” Spalletti once said.

Better than all of Spain.

The Naples player is not the only one who stands out among the Georgian figures. There are also Mikautadze, the Euro’s top scorer, and Mamardashvili, one of the best – if not the best – goalkeeper in the championship. The Valencia player still wanted to add some spice to the preview of tonight’s game. “Kvaratskhelia is better than all of Spain,” he said flatly.

Always trying to stay away from the media spotlight, Khvicha is a fan of tennis, hiking, video games and basketball. A loyal NBA fan, he is a fan of the Golden State Warriors and, above all, Stephen Curry. The mountains of his native Georgia are his favorite place to relax, which demonstrates his simple lifestyle. Simplistic in his day-to-day life, ambitious on the field.

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