«Messi is the best in the world, but I don’t compare him to Maradona because for us the Neapolitans Diego is sacred. At this moment Messi is the best of all, ”he says Lorenzo Insigne. The words of the captain of Naples describe what Diego means to the city.
It’s something that goes beyond football, it’s the pride of the South which, for once, could compete on equal terms with the powerful north. “Welcome to Italy,” said the banner with which the Verona fans received Maradona in their first game in Serie A. And there the war began, because Italy, for those in the North, it was they who had the money. But Naples had Maradona.
And Maradona was one of his. “I want to become the idol of the poor kids in Naples, because they are the way I was when I lived in Buenos Aires,” said Maradona When he arrived in Italy. He tells it in the book “I am Diego”, where he also confesses that he needed a transfer to leave Barcelona because the bad investments of his agent, Jorge Cyterszpiler, had left him in ruin.
Naples saved Maradona and Diego saved the pride of the city. It was a perfect marriage of convenience that soon loved one with an excessive love for good and for bad. Maradona arrived at a team that had been one point above the descent the previous year, twelfth in a League of 16. In Spain its position – approximately because the League was 18 teams – was occupied by Valladolid. That reality Maradona only worried about knowing after signing his contract.
Starting from there Diego invented a champion team in just three years without too many reinforcements. Bertoni formed with him the couple of foreigners who replaced Ruud Krol and Dirceu. The most striking signings apart from the two of them were a young Salvatore Bagni who came from Inter and Penzo, a veteran substitute striker in Juventus who had just been European champion.
Diego invented a champion team. Until his arrival, Naples had only won two Italian Cups. With him he won two Leagues and a Juventus Cup and the emerging Milan of Berlusconi, in addition to a UEFA Cup. Something that Maradona couldn’t imagine when at the end of the first round in his first year with Naples his team added nine points. «And I went to Buenos Aires to spend the holidays with a shame that I can’t even tell», recognizes Maradona.
He was the “10”, but also the sports director. «Buy three or four players and sell the people whistle. His thermometer has to be that, when I give a ball to one and they whistle, bye … And if not, think about selling me, because I, like that, don’t stay, ”he told Corrado Ferlaino, the president of Naples . And Naples began to grow.
Against that myth Messi fights, What is it the best soccer player in the world, but only that, a soccer player. Leo, however, has achieved in Barcelona what Maradona was denied. He has won four Champions Leagues and six Golden Balls, an award for which Diego did not compete because he was reserved for European soccer players. Messi is Maradona raised in Barcelona, without that past of neighborhood friends like Diego’s Cyterszpiler, which he ended up adopting as a manager.
Omar Sívori, the Argentine precedent of Maradona who played in Juventus, remembered his arrival in Turin by train and compared it with that of Maradona, who planned to land on the lawn of San Paolo for presentation. It is the space that separates football from the 60s with the advent of the first football galactic.
In Argentina Leo has to compete with the shadow of Maradona because he did not win a World Cup and because he was considered too European ;, in Barcelona Maradona cannot compete with Messi. In Argentina there is only one «10» and there is only one «D10s». It is impossible to compete with him in that and in many other things, simply because Maradona did it before.
Diego’s identification with Naples and Naples is the one Leo has with Barcelona. It is an undisputed idol, although the city has not become a museum of Messi as it happens with the “10”. Because they are the same, but different. And what sets them apart, especially, is emotion. Messi has against technology, the means that allow him to watch his matches every day and around the world. Maradona was the first genius visible to the entire planet, but many times you had to settle for summaries to see his latest creation.
But none as big as Naples, the team that only he made compete against the best. «Why did I go to Naples and not Juventus or Milan? Because only Naples came for me, ”says Diego.