"The injury didn't take place. Toro, I was hoping for a chance in the first team"

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Ben Lhassine Kone he is a boy with all his heart and talent. A boy who grew up away from home: he started from the streets of the Ivory Coast to reach his mother who had emigrated to Italy in Rome, with the dream of arriving in Serie A well placed in the drawer. Dream that Turin allowed him to caress, but not yet fully realize: in two years so many convocations, but not even a presence in the first team for the former number 10 of the Primavera grenade; become a man and footballer under the protective wing of Federico Coppitelli, which Kone himself does not struggle to define "Like a father" for what he did for him. Today destiny brought him to Cosenza (in Serie B) but he reserved an extra obstacle for him: a bad injury that will keep him away from the camps for six months. But the "black panther" – so the Turin comrades have nicknamed him – has no intention of giving up and, indeed, he can't wait to scratch again.

Good morning Ben. First of all I ask her how she is: how is the recovery going after the accident?

"It's going fine. Now I'm in Rome, I'm at home and I'm doing the exercises the doctor gave me. On the 22nd (November n.d.r.) I have an appointment at Villa Margherita where my knees will look at me and if all is well, I should start rehabilitation. Before operating, the doctor told me that I would have had 5 or 6 months to stop, but it all depends on how I manage to recover ”.

An injury that didn't want us: just when he was starting to get into Serie B …

"A pity because I was doing well, I had a good start. I didn't expect it and didn't want it, but I'm trying to face it the right way to get back as soon as possible and as best I can ”.

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How was the impact with the new reality of Cosenza? You were one of the few ex Primavera starting with Serie B without passing by C.

"I had a good impact, it seemed like a level championship. I was not afraid to play it because I am aware of my means and when you have the confidence of the coach, the company and the companions nothing can stop you ”.

Comes from a Spring that has garnered important results: is there an episode in particular of his experience at Turin that he remembers and cherishes with greater satisfaction?

"There are so many … Surely when we won the Super Cup it was great, but I also remember when we beat Atalanta in the semifinals. We started from a disadvantage after the first leg, we had a lot of injuries but we managed to overturn the result and I think that I will remember that game forever. There was a resounding audience, we can say that it was thanks to them that we were able to bring that game home".

In that Atalanta there was Kulusevski. Did you expect it could already make a difference in Serie A?

"Yes, I expected it. It was clear that he was different from other players … ".

Do you still hear any of your former classmates?

"I always feel with Samake, Singo, Kone, Onisa, Adopo and De Angelis. Many wrote to me for the accident, I kept many friends in Turin".

And Mr. Coppitelli? He had a special relationship with him.

"I always feel it. Mr. Federico has always been a father to me: when I made a mistake he always corrected me and started again (laughs) … But he always did it for my own good so I can only say that our relationship has always been like that between a father and a son".

Even the coach this year has been confronted with his first year among professionals but a premature exoneration perhaps has arrived …

"In my opinion he was not given the right time to work. Because he arrived in a new company and tried to rebuild the team as he did in Turin. Things did not go as he wanted and they immediately sent him away after a few games, but in my opinion it was not right because he was not given the opportunity to prove his worth and replicate what he had done in Turin".

And you instead? Have you hoped for a chance from Serie A before going to Cosenza?

"I hoped for Taurus. I hoped so much because in Spring at Turin I did two fantastic, almost perfect seasons. Both the director Bava and the coach Coppitelli were delighted with me and I expected to make that little pass to get into the first team. I had several meetings, but unfortunately I never had the opportunity to show my value in the field. In these two years I have given everything with the ambition to arrive at the Turin team. However I didn't mind going to play in Serie B, it is a valid championship and I am in a warm square that reminds me of Torino. So for me it's like being at home. "

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The only one of you ex Primavera who found space in the first team was Millico …

"He deserved because he had done a good championship, like all of us. He scored 29 goals this season and for an attacker they are important numbers. From my point of view I can only say that I continue to work and I continue to entrust myself to the director Bava because he is the one who brought me to Turin and knows what he is doing. I was hoping to do well in Serie B this year to have arguments to bring to then point to the first team, but unfortunately this injury came … I will try to recover as soon as possible".

This summer the retreat in Bormio, the second for her. What was your experience?

"A nice experience. When you go there you work hard and then during the championship the fruits of that work are gathered. It helped me a lot".

He had the chance to immerse himself in the Torino's locker room: what kind of group did it look like?

"A fantastic group. Meite is like a brother to me, but I am also tied to Nkoulou and Izzo: they are all good people. When you enter the locker room you see everyone happy and focused: they immediately transmit the desire to work and train to the maximum. There is a wonderful atmosphere: everyone loves and respects each other, there is a great desire to train together. As a family, as soon as I arrived, the veterans immediately welcomed me as if I were their child. In the field we work and we always ask 100%, then after work we get together and have fun".

The Turin fans have been calling it "black panther" for a long time: how was this nickname born?

"An uncle of mine called me that. Then I remember that a Toro fan so called me to a game, then another and another. Obviously he liked it and in the end I stayed: I like it as a nickname".

How much time do you see yourself starring in the first Turin team?

"I can't say, because it depends on several factors. Clearly if it was up to me alone I would still be in Turin to play my cards. But now the important thing is to get back to the best of the injury and start playing again. Then the coach and the management will decide if they will deserve it in the future. I can't do anything but recover myself, go back to training 100% and give my best as I've always done. Surely when I return to the field I will always do it with the same desire, with the same hunger and with the same wickedness. With great desire to grow, improve and demonstrate my value".



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