YESTERDAY morning, the football World mourned the passing of an Icon, Argentina there’s one place outside Argentina that will likely match – or possibly even exceed – the outpouring of mourning for Diego Maradona, who has died aged 60, it’s in Naples.
While Maradona was revered around the world as perhaps the greatest soccer player ever, in Naples he was more than that.
Maradona was treated as a deity for the way he led Napoli to its only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – and raised the spirits of the southern Italian city, which remains far removed both geographically and socio-economically from the country’s soccer capitals of Milan and Turin.
“Maradona wasn’t just a player. He represented the spirit of Napoli for years,” said former Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino, who owned the club when Maradona played there.
Upon hearing the news, Naples mayor Luigi De Magistris immediately proposed the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona – and ordered the stadium’s lights be turned on all night even though there was no game being played there.
“Maradona is Napoli. The passion for him here is known to everyone,” De Magistris said. “Maradona united Neapolitans all over the world – as well as fans of other squads.
“Today all Neapolitans embrace his family, with the awareness that this embrace will never end,” the mayor added. “Because it was real love. A great love.”
Maradona also led Napoli to the 1989 UEFA Cup title during his seven-season stay.