In Europe, and indeed other parts of the world, football is not just a sport. It is a way of life, a benchmark to measure greatness, and of course, it is big business.
For a club like Napoli, the events at the Stadio Diego Amando Maradona transcend past the stadium. It affects what happens on the streets. It determines the mood of the city itself.
Legendary Argentine maestro Maradona spent seven seasons at Napoli, delivering two Scudetto titles during his stay. Maradona had a huge effect on Naples, as getting him to join Napoli was no mean feat. Napoli did this at a time when Milan and Juventus were the top teams in Italy. In fact, at the time, they had never won a Serie A title.
Maradona’s presence in Naples helped put the city shoulder-to-shoulder with Milan and Turin. His influence can still be felt in the City, with his pictures plastered in different parts. In fact, there is a shrine dedicated to him in the heart of the city.
Ahead of tonight’s Derby del Sole between Napoli and Roma, Soccernet’s @Jololade reports live from Naples about the lasting legacy of the Argentina legend Diego Maradona. #serieA #napoli #diegomaradona #victorosimhen #asroma #calcio #football #italianfootball #d10s pic.twitter.com/0dkeHI1QB0
— Soccernet.ng (@soccernet_ng) January 29, 2023
The last time Napoli won the Serie A was the 1989-90 season, and Maradona played an important role in their triumph, registering 16 goals and 10 assists in 28 appearances.
Unfortunately for the club, they could not sustain that success. They had financial struggles, and it eventually came to bear as they suffered relegation to Serie B in 1998.
Aurelio De Laurentiis bought the club in 2004 at a point when they were declared bankrupt and demoted to Serie C, and He helped return them to the top flight.
In De Laurentiis’ reign as president, many strikers have played for the club. Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, and Gonzalo Higuain are some of the top strikers that have played for the clubs but none of them has helped push the team to Serie A glory.
Osimhen’s success makes him the best in De Laurentiis’ era
Despite the array of top strikers since De Laurentiis became president of the club, Osimhen has distinguished himself as the best so far.
Sitting pretty with 21 goals, Osimhen has been an integral part of Napoli’s push for the Scudetto. His perfect blend of pace, power, and astute finishing has come in extremely handy. And De Laurentiis would be ecstatic that his decision to break the bank for the 24-year-old in 2020 has paid off.
It would be disrespectful to compare Osimhen’s contribution to the club with Maradona’s. But Osimhen deserves his flowers. Maradona loved the city when he was there.
Meanwhile, Osimhen shares a connection with the fans. After games, he is one of the few players who dedicates time to the fans. He always stops to take pictures and sign autographs.
This was almost 4am but some #Napoli fans waited outside for Victor Osimhen to finish dinner.
The way they love and hug in Naples is beautiful. Victor matches their energy with his unique appreciative personality. Good to see. pic.twitter.com/CdYMZy2t3u
— Lolade Adewuyi (@Jololade) April 20, 2023
There was an incident when he mistakenly hit a fan with the ball, and he went on to apologize.
The fans in turn love him. The Serie A has always had issues with racism, but the Napoli faithful have always stood solidly behind their number 9.
The climax is nigh, Neapolitans deserve to celebrate after the long hiatus
Napoli’s 1-0 victory over Juventus on Sunday was met with wild celebrations by the fans as they took to the streets to celebrate their second consecutive victory over the Old Lady.
Osimhen shared videos of fans trailing the team bus and singing victory songs. The win takes them one step close to winning the Scudetto, 33 years after they won it with Maradona as captain.
Napoli is the biggest club in Naples, and once they are confirmed champions, the city will surely be thrown into wild jubilation.
Saturday’s celebrations was just a preamble. When Napoli eventually wins the Scudetto, you can expect fireworks.
The Parthenopeans can be confirmed as champions if they beat Salernitana and Lazio drop points at Inter Milan next week.