One month since the death of Diego Armando Maradona and the city of Naples, in southern Italy, looks more and more like a Maradonaland every day.
After renaming the San Paolo stadium from the Napoli soccer club and a train station in his honor this month, local authorities are planning a grand museum, commissioning statues and dedicating an entire plaza to the Argentine who led the team to glory. football in the city and is considered one of the best players of all time.
Since the minutes after the announcement of the news of the death of the former footballer on November 25, the two large murals of the city that represent Maradona have become authentic places of pilgrimage, attracting hundreds of tourists every day, visitors and fans.
Underneath the images of the Argentine hero, people place flowers, soccer balls, SSC Napoli jerseys, photographs, necklaces and other memorabilia that will one day be displayed in the stadium museum, local authorities told The Guardian.
“We are already working on a project to decorate the area in front of the mural in the Spanish Quarter with plants and benches,” said Luigi Felaco, head of urban decoration in Naples.
“The mural was painted by the artist Mauro Filardi in 1990 to celebrate Napoli’s second Serie A championship. Now we intend to name the square in honor of Maradona, given that hundreds of people have flocked to the area every day since his death.
The other mural, completed in 2017 by street artist Jorit, is a giant explosion on a building on Calle Taverna del Ferro in the suburban San Giovanni a Teduccio neighborhood. Both works of art will be highlighted during the festive season.
Diego, who led Napoli to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup, was revered as a demigod in the city, comparable only to its patron saint, San Gennaro. And like every saint, Maradona will have his statues: Felaco says that more than 14 artists have submitted proposals for the Maradona statue.
“We are evaluating all of them,” said Felaco. “We are committed to erecting statues of Diego, but we are also considering where to place them, given that dozens of neighborhoods would like to have a statue in the middle.”
Maradona’s arrival in Naples in 1984 gave rise to a thriving informal economy based on gadgets, shirts and photos of the Argentine champion, and for which the footballer never requested royalties, as Emir Kusturica recounts in his documentary about the player.
“For many people this all seems absurd. If you are not Neapolitan or from the south, I realize that it is difficult to understand what Maradona meant for this city, ”said Felaco.
“Diego’s history and life are intertwined with the city of Naples. Maradona came from the south of the world and fought for the people of the south. Naples is the capital of southern Italy and, for a city like ours, having a player like him represented a redemption not only for Naples, but for all the people of the south ”.
Meanwhile, Via San Gregorio Armeno is full of people buying handmade nativity scenes and terracotta figurines for their nativity scenes at home. Traditionally, it was a shepherd or an animal that joined the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but this Christmas, a new attraction has entered the scene: a figure of Maradona with angel wings.
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