What Diego means for Naples


What Diego means for Naples is something difficult to explain: he was the symbol of the 1980's and if you have not been in Naples from 1984 to 1991 you could never imagine what Maradona meant and still means for all of the Neapolitans.
Since his first arrival in Naples everybody began to love him like a son, but also like a hero: he was the man who could give a worldwide renown to Naples and to the soccer team, the S.S.C.Napoli. This club, founded in 1926, had never won any Italian Championship: 60 years with no victories were enough and the city needed somebody who could lead the club to the top of Italian and European soccer. This man was Diego Armando Maradona. His social importance was simply great: no Southern Italy team had ever won any Scudetto, and Napoli was the first to beat the richer teams from the North like Juventus, AC Milan, Inter and so on.
The years from 1984 to 1991 were unique and impossible to repeat: everywhere you were going, you could find something about Diego. When he arrived from Barcelona in the summer of 1984 you could find everywhere banners about Diego, pictures of this great champion, whatever you can imagine about him. Everybody in Naples went crazy with his arrival! You could see people dressed like Diego with the #10 jersey, with flags of Napoli, with scarves and so on, there was a Diego-mania everywhere. If you were in Naples when we won the first and the second Scudetto, you will probably understand that some things are difficult to explain by words.

Furthermore, Maradona had a great social importance too: he became the idol of the people, many people living in poor conditions found a way to forget their problems thinking about Diego and being fans of this champion. Somebody saw him as a "liberator" for many people, somebody who could give them a reason to live for. You probably know the Neapolitans: we are famous for our spontaneity, for our happy way to see life and for our excitement when something good is happening; then you can realize how people in Naples went crazy with Maradona's arrival. I think that if some archaeologist in the year 3000 AD finds some "ancient" objects about Maradona, he will probably think that he was a sort of idol, something people could live for.
Maradona was almost everywhere in Naples: from murals in the streets to some fireworks called "Maradona's ball", from every kind of gadgets and souvenirs to the cake with Diego, from poems about him to statues in his honour. He was everywhere: if you hated him, then you should have better gone away from Naples! But nobody could hate him: he was a hero for everybody, he could give  the joy of the first Italian Championship to the people and a worldwide renown to the city.
I have heard of many people whose thoughts, when they think about Naples, soon go to Maradona: a friend told me about a man in Tanzania (!) who, when he heard the word Italy, said "What is Italy?", but when he heard "I am from Naples" he said "Ah, Naples: Diego Armando Maradona". Since I am from Naples, when I speak to foreign people about soccer and I say "I am a fan of Napoli", they suddenly tell me: "Napoli, Maradona". He was the best football player ever, the way he played in Naples is something unbelievable. I am proud to say: "I have seen him" and "I was there", when he led our team to win twice the Scudetto, once the UEFA Cup, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.

He is the best player in football history: I was lucky to be part of the joy of Naples and I was lucky since I have seen Him playing. I think that all of us in Naples should thank him for what he gave to us and to the city. The years when he played in Naples are unforgettable.

I have just one thing to say: THANK YOU, DIEGO.

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