Diego Maradona’s time with SSC Napoli, from 1984 to 1992, was relatively short and ended in mob- and drug-related disgrace. But this was the most successful period of the club’s history, which saw it win two Italian championships or Scudetti in 1987 & 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1990. The period also coincided with Maradona’s professional peak, captaining Argentina to World Cup victory in Mexico in 1986 and leading them to the final in 1990. Maradona score 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.
When Napoli won Serie A for the first time in their history in 1987:
‘The celebrations were tumultuous…a rolling series of impromptu street parties and festivities broke out contagiously across the city in a round-the-clock carnival which ran for over a week. The world was turned upside down. The Neapolitans held mock funerals for Juventus and Milan, burning their coffins, their death notices announcing ‘May 1987, the other Italy has been defeated. A new empire is born.’ Derided by the northerners as donkeys, they now dressed as one, dragging Lombard and Tuscan devils by their tails through the gutters of the city’.
But his impact here was always about more that the goals and cups. Maradona’s personality was a perfect fit for the city; emotional, passionate, anarchic, rebellious, spontaneous, mercurial, loyal, controversial, insubordinate. His image can still be seen everywhere in the city, above bars, in niches, on posters and flags. His name is still chanted at the Stadio San Paolo on match days.
You can relive Maradona’s magic in a Napoli shirt at the video below.