THE city of Naples was once home to a player whom many consider the best to have ever stepped foot on a football pitch.
Diego Maradona joined Napoli for a world record fee of £6.9m in 1984, where he reached the peak of his incredible and often tumultuous career.
He was the answer to Neapolitan prayers, the saviour who catapulted the club to both domestic and European honours.
Maradona went on to be the hero of thousands of adoring fans and to become the greatest player to have ever worn the blue shirt of Napoli.
The Argentina star elevated the club to the most successful era in its history and quickly became adored by the club’s supporters.
With Maradona at the club, Napoli won their only Serie A championships to date in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons as well as winning the Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Italian Supercup in 1990. Maradona finished the 1987-88 season as the top scorer in Serie A.
In typical Maradona style, his time in Naples was filled with as much controversy as it was glamour, but when he left the club, the No. 10 shirt he graced for six seasons, was retired.
A gaping, Maradona-sized hole was left at a club desperate for a new playmaker. Maradona had gone, and so had Napoli’s success and the club known as ‘The Little Donkeys’ plummeted to Serie C, the third tier of Italian football.
Napoli have since found their feet again and have regained their status as one of the premier teams in Italy.
They have unearthed another quality playmaker in Slovakia star Marek Hamsik and the club is competing for honours again, having made the final of this season’s Coppa Italia.