The love story of Napoli and Maradona that Messi will not be able to repeat in Barcelona

“I never thought I would see anyone better than Maradona. They say that Maradona won the world Cup and Messi not. But Leo has four trophies of the Champions League, and Diego with their scratch”. (Gary Lineker)

“What Zidane could do with a ball, Maradona could do with an orange.” (Michel Platini)

“Diego for all Argentines is God. And it will always be them.” (Carlos Tevez)

“Even if I played a million years I would never come close to Maradona. He’s the greatest that ever played football”. (Lionel Messi)

***

Knowledgeable people say that Naples is not a city but an experience. It’s a heartbeat, a way of life. Don’t believe? Ask about this city the most famous of his son – Diego Maradona. It doesn’t matter that he was born in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, which is 11 thousand kilometers from Naples. As soon as the Argentinian arrived in this Italian city, he realized that he loved him and all the residents of Naples love in response to Diego.

For seven years, from 1984 to 1991, Maradona with his fantastic play was admired by fans of Napoli, leading the team to the only in its history a European trophy, the UEFA Cup, won by “paranapanema” at the end of season 1988/89.

Since, as of 5 July 1984, Diego Maradona came to the stadium “San Paolo” to greet the audience at his presentation of the 70 thousand fans of “Napoli”, it always seemed that fate had not just brought the Argentinian and the club. To Maradona, the transfer of which cost Napoli in the record for football at that time, $ 7.6 million., Naples feel undervalued and unloved. He was only a part of that rather depressing, if not abandoned, in the South of Italy, only dreaming of such attention that has been given to the wealthier inhabitants of the North of the country. Complicated history, in particular with migrants who made Naples a very tough place for someone who put a purpose in life to find your way. Even in this seemingly quite well (let’s put aside the coronavirus pandemic, which in varying degrees affected the entire world, not just Italy and its administrative units) the time in Naples, many associated primarily with problems such as the mafia and corruption, but not with something bright, warm and cozy.

But the arrival of Maradona became the catalyst that forced almost the whole of Naples believe and live a common dream. A huge dream, one might even say. All because the city came not just a talented football player, and the player whose abilities many fans still think unearthly and unique to someone else. It pointed Maradona Napoli and Naples in their own way, was for this team and the city something absolutely unimaginable.

Every goal, the trick, in the end, Maradona fascinated the crowd gathered at the stadium and beating in this ecstasy. He became a God in their eyes, and every fight has risen more and more unattainable for other heights. “I consider myself a son of Naples,” said Maradona, just barely completing a lap of honor on the occasion of the first ever League title, Napoli won at the end of season 1986/87. But these words today, some people might seem pathetic, there was no need for them – fans of “Napoli” – because they took Maradona for his much earlier.

Even after almost three decades since the departure of Maradona from Napoli, after all of his scandals with drugs and lovers, Diego remained a true idol for football fans of Naples. When the Argentine some wind now still puts in Italy, he never misses an opportunity to visit your favorite and the native town and all its inhabitants accept him not only as the Supreme deity. His images continue to adorn countless walls, and murals of Maradona just as prevalent in Naples as banks or grocery stores in any other cities of the world.

 

 

 

 

It is clear that the absolute genius of our time, Lionel Messi would probably once aware of the presence around such a halo of sanctity that earned Maradona in Naples. Long considered a successor to his legendary compatriot, Messi has already written his name in the history of Barcelona, and not less firmly than the Diego in Napoli. However, despite their 627 718 goals in official matches for “blaugranas”, Lionel failed to rise to the same level of idolatry in Barcelona, who is Maradona’s in Naples. 32-year-old Argentine love, in Catalonia, but only recently it with my own eyes could see how iconic characters Naples is his compatriot Maradona.

Before Messi, obviously, only had the opportunity to hear about the enormous love of the Neapolitans to Maradona from your friends or read about it in the press, but he never played on “Stadio San Paolo”. On February 25, when the coronavirus has not yet paralyzed football in Europe, Lionel visited in Naples, playing in the first match of 1/8 finals of the Champions League against Napoli.

“I really wanted to go to this stadium, but the chance did not fall out. Finally, it was this moment, and I was very happy to see that is a “San Paolo”, even if now everything looks different than it was during the performances of Maradona. There were carried out reconstruction, but it did not change the General atmosphere that prevails during the games. Knew before, that the Neapolitans are crazy about football. I had teammates that played there. For Example, Ezequiel LAVEZZI. He told me many interesting things. From him I learned that people in Naples live football,” said Messi after the match.

That game ended with the score 1:1, and Messi failed to score at the stadium where a lot of goals earlier, was distinguished by his legendary compatriot. Perhaps this is poetic justice, at least for the fans of Napoli who have only one king – Diego Maradona.

 

 

Of course, Messi has every right to admire his career. She really incredible and very few people, perhaps, will be able to get close to the number of titles that have already gained Leo. However, in Naples Messi saw something else – the love and devotion of fans to their favorite, which went through not only three decades but several generations of football fans. This is a truly unique phenomenon in modern football, where former idols, of course, is honored in many countries and clubs, but the youth always prefers more respectful to speak about the heroes of his time. Something like that probably awaits Messi at Barcelona, as the club of this caliber for three decades will surely be a new star that’ll make a few forgotten about the old idol – but this is the kind of story that seems impossible for Naples and it has already become the eternal connection with Maradona…

See also: Messi or Ronaldo? Who are the best football legends

Alexey SLEPCHENKO

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