Kobe Bryant: “I love soccer since the time I was a boy.”

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Kobe Bryant has an interesting history that many fans might not know. His father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professional basketball in Italy where Kobe spent his formative years. Kobe grew up playing soccer and basketball. But his passion for soccer/Italian calcio never left him. He actively supports FC Barcelona and AC Milan. On Saturday night in Rustenburg, Bryant was on hand to lend his support for the USA.

I have heard him give interviews in Italian. Even after all of these years, his Italian is fluent. He provided a few brief comments to the Milan sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, from South Africa.

A Fan from a Young Age

Amo il calcio fin da quando ero bambino, da quando vivevo in Italia e tifavo Milan, sognando di essere un giorno Van Basten, un giorno Maradona e uno Baggio“.

“I love soccer since the time I was a boy. From when I lived in Italy and supported AC Milan. Dreaming one day to be Marco Van Basten, one day Diego Maradona and one day Roberto Baggio.”

Honored to be Compared with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Ospite di uno dei suoi molti sponsor, Bryant, è stato paragonato dai giornalisti a Cristiano Ronaldo e Messi.

“Per me è un onore essere paragonato a loro”

Kobe Bryant before USA v. Ghana in Rustenburg

Kobe Bryant before USA v. Ghana in Rustenburg

Ha risposto l’asso di Los Angeles, che poi si è sbilanciato sulle favorite:

“Un mese fa dicevo Germania, ora non so, comunque mi piacciono Spagna e Brasile. Domani vado a vedere la partita contro il Cile“.


A guest of one of his many sponsors, Bryant was compared by journalists to Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.

“For me, it is an honor to be compared to them.”

Responded the star of Los Angeles. Then he pondered in hindsight his thoughts on the favorites:

“A month ago, I was saying Germany. Now, I don’t know. Well, I like Spain and Brazil. Tomorrow (Monday), I am going to see the match against Chile.”

Deluded by Early Azzurri Exit

Sulle delusioni del Mondiale, invece, Bryant ha le idee chiare:

“Mi è dispiaciuto moltissimo per l’eliminazione dell’Italia. Non me l’aspettavo, ma si rifarà tra quattro anni“.


On the disappointment in the World Cup by Italy, on the contrary, Bryant had clear thoughts:

“I was very sorry for the elimination of Italy. I didn’t expect it but in four years, they will make up for it.”

Kobe Bryant with the 2010 NBA Championship trophy

Kobe Bryant with the 2010 NBA Championship trophy

On Ending His Basketball Career in Italy

L’Italia è il paese dove Bryant intende chiudere la carriera, come più volte dichiarato in passato:

“Sì, è vero, mi piacerebbe moltissimo chiudere la mia carriera giocando in Italia. Ho tanti amici a Reggio Emilia e Milano. Adesso no, ma è un sogno che realizzerò“.


Italy is the country where Bryant intends to end his career as he has declared many times in the past:

“Yes, it’s true. It would please me a great deal to end my career playing in Italy. I have many friends in Reggio Emilia and Milan. Not now, but it is a dream that I will realize.”

Italian source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, June 27, 2010.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Washington, D.C. He writes the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio (Italian soccer school), Football Media, Keeper Skool and Soccerlens.

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