Go(o)d-bye Maradona

You don’t know what you have missed 

(Maradona and the Scudetto)

Somebody wrote this phrase on the cemetery wall, the day later Napoli  won first Scudetto in 1987.

It is hard maybe understand, from somebody who doesn’t know Napoli, why its story is so glued to Maradona. If you look back to Diego, as a child, he could have a lot of similarities to any child in Napoli. Poverty, lack of opportunities, Buenos Aires and Napoli, were very close to the distance. 

So when Maradona came to Italy, he felt at home in some ways. He understood he could be useful not just for football, but throughout the football, and he could write a new story for himself and the city that opens its heart to him. 

Since the first day, everybody in Napoli knew that nothing would be the same. Think that the story tells us almost a hundred thousand people were waiting for him the day of his presentation at the Stadio San Paolo.

People found in Diego, the person that could give them an act of real revenge in football and their daily life. Since the start, Diego et his football have been a way for the city of Napoli to find a place in Italy finally. 

And maybe also around the world. 

There is only one football team in the city, even if somebody tried to build up another in the 60, but it could not be. 

In hard times, with a lot of social issues, the football team has been the only way to escape from reality. So when Maradona came, the Neapolitan thought that finally, they could have a real place in the world. Diego understood it. He was always close to the people and the city. Legendary has been the match that Diego did, in a 3rd category football field full of mud, to raise money for a child in need for an operation. He came, he asked for nothing, he made a big little miracle. People found in him a hero, but also a friend, somebody very close to them.

Maradona through my eyes: the Match Of Friendship And Peace.”

In Paris, four years ago, I was one of the international journalist accreditated at the event, for the Italian Tv Mediaset. Usually, we should have like ten minutes with him, but finally, some colleagues took too much time, and things were going a little wrong. 

Maradona started to be a bit tired after half an hour chat with the same person and more under the sun of June. I can remember it was quite hot, but at the same time I could not lose my time with him. We had a look through the foul of people around him, he stopped then.

I think he saw I was almost desperate. I took my chance doing some question, and he replied before in Spanish and then in Italian. He gave me the exact reply I was looking for. Not just talking about the Napoli season, but pushing behind De Laurentiis doing more for the team and the city. 

I was grateful. Diego spent 5 minutes with me and then he went away. But after all, what I will take with me will not be just the words, but the chance I had to see him playing in front of me. It was a friendly match, he was of course overweights, but I never saw anybody to touch the ball like him. He was almost fixed on the same place, but he was able to give a remarkable trajectory each time, on the ground and in the air.

As people years ago, today I can say too: you don’t know what you have missed.

Ciao Diego

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