Although his body is located about 11,000 kilometers from Naples, Diego Maradona’s wake in his adoptive city in southern Italy began on Wednesday and will continue throughout Thursday, after the mayor officially proclaimed a day of mourning for the death of the “Best player of all”. time”.
This is not the only initiative the town has in store to celebrate Maradona, who died this Wednesday of a heart attack in a house on the outskirts of Buenos Aires where he was recovering from a brain operation.
The mayor, Luigi de Magistris, also proposed renaming the San Paolo stadium, home of the Napoli soccer team, in honor of its legendary player. “I ask that our stadium, which has witnessed so many of his successes, be named after him. His name will be Diego Armando Maradona. People want it. They spoke unanimously, ”he said.
The SCC Naples management has agreed and the official announcement could arrive in the next few days.
But the greatest demonstration of the city’s love and respect for the Argentine champion were thousands of mourners, minutes after the news of the footballer’s death was announced, taking to the streets to commemorate their adoptive king of Naples.
“Tonight a piece of Naples has died forever,” said Antonio Esposito as he looked through his tears at the 6-meter (20-foot) mural of Maradona overlooking his local plaza in the city’s Spanish quarter.
Esposito was surrounded by families with young children and groups of friends dressed in the tracksuits of the SSC Napoli club, holding candles and recording videos, intermittently bursting into collective songs and loud manifestations of pain. “It’s too sad for words, it’s too sad,” said Esposito, who is the plaza’s informal janitor and installed a projector that shows Maradona’s moments of glory over and over to the crowd.
Red smoke used to come out of the stands at games that rose through the plaza. An old woman stretched skyward from the balcony of her ground-floor apartment. “We have lost our angel,” he said. The grown men were on their knees. Maradona’s open-air sanctuary had been transformed into an improvised place of mourning: the screen, his altarpiece.
Hailing from Barcelona, Maradona gave Napoli the most successful period in its history during his time there from 1984 to 1991, injecting a much-needed dose of purpose and pride into the city’s veins. “Every Sunday, I’d skip Mom’s lunch to watch the game, climb over the bleachers’ barriers, and run away from the police,” Ciro Pisante proudly told others who were eager to tell their own stories and sharing wine in glasses. plastic in one corner. from the square. “We felt invincible in those days.”
Off the court, Maradona’s life was mired in scandal, but this only made his fans adore him more. They found her rebelliousness and evidence of human vulnerability beneath the star’s personality. They saw someone like them, who came from the street and embodied all the idiosyncrasies and contradictions that he did. “He was just a Neapolitan Scugnizzo [Neapolitan for naughty rascal] like us, ”said Marco Pellegrini, who was putting up posters that read“ Maradona, Naples is crying ”on the front of a store.
Authorities appeared to turn a blind eye to breaches of the city’s Covid restrictions. In Naples, he was venerated as a demigod, comparable only to the city’s patron saint, San Gennaro.
In the seven years that Maradona spent in Naples, there were 515 newborns with the Argentine player’s name. Many parents baptized their children simply Diego. Others went further and gave them his full name, Diego Armando Maradona. Today, there are thousands of diegos in the city.
“On a day like this, I wanted to thank my parents who gave me their name,” one of the Diego Armando Maradonas told Sky News.
On Wednesday, in the eyes of the Neapolitans, not only had the greatest player of all time died.
“Maradona represented our redemption,” wrote the Neapolitan writer and author of Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano, in an article in La Repubblica. “Redemption, because a southern team had never won a Scudetto [the award given to the champions of Italy’s top division], a team from the south had never won the UEFA Cup, nor had they been the center of attention in the world. ”
Maradona instilled a new pride among the Neapolitans. Northern Italy had Juventus, Milan, and star players from Marco van Basten to Michel Platini, as well as big companies like Fiat and Ferrari, which means money, a lot of money. But Napoli had Maradona.
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