Napoli’s Saint: what happened since Maradona’s death

by | Nov 25, 2021 12:02

Diego Armando Maradona died one year ago today and Lorenzo Bettoni recalls how Napoli and Naples mourned their legend and what has happened since then.

Even if Maradona died at his home in Tigre, Argentina, being in Naples during the days after his death gave you the feeling that the Partenopei’s legend had passed away in the town.

Italians live football with passion, but it’s nothing compared to the Napeolitans’ spirit. Every local shop has images of Napoli’s stars and legends hung on the walls and Maradona’s, of course, makes no exception. Whether or not they saw him play, Diego is like a family member to every Partenopei fan.

Maradona mural, NaplesHe was the man who came down South to break the hegemony of Milan, Inter and Juventus. He was the man who helped Napoli go to the top of Italian and European football, helping the club win the only two Serie A titles in their history as well as a Coppa Italia, one Italian SuperCup and one UEFA cup. When he died, everybody felt like they had lost a father or a brother.

One year ago, every Neapolitan paid tribute to Maradona in front of the iconic mural in the Quartieri Spagnoli, one of Naples’s most humble and crowded districts. Hundreds of thousands of fans mourned their legend for days after his passing. The day after his death, many gathered outside the Stadio San Paolo during the Europa League match against Rijeka which, like more or less every other game in the world at the time, was played behind closed doors due to the COVID pandemic.

Many things have changed since, but not the love that Napoli and Naples feel for their legend. The Stadio San Paolo has been named after Maradona and over the next few days, a statue representing the 1986 World Cup winner will be unveiled in front of the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli have paid tribute to Diego in so many ways. Last year, they played many games with a newly-designed shirt with white and light blue stripes in the same style as Argentina’s jersey. This season, they will play a few more with a new kit featuring Maradona’s face.

One of his sons, Diego Armando Maradona Junior, who was acknowledged by the Napoli legend after 30 years, kept posting heartbreaking messages and videos for the whole year. The last one, only a few hours ago, shows him during a private party with his father.

“You could come down for at least a minute and hug me, laugh with me a little,” he wrote.

“I have so many things to say to you, so many songs to sing and matches of Napoli to watch together. Dad, a year has gone since you left, who knows where you are. Fly high as you only know how to, I love you and miss you so much.”

It’s been a year of remembrance and controversy, which is what you always expect when it comes to Maradona.

Several people from his medical staff are under trial for his death. According to Olé, they are his personal doctor, Leopoldo Luque, the psychologists Agustina Cosachov and Carlos Díaz, the nurses Dahiana Gisela Madrid and Ricardo Almirón as well as the nurses’ coordinator of Medidom, Mariano Perroni and the doctor who coordinated the hospitalization, Nancy Forlini.

Medidon is the company that managed the staff inside Maradona’s house.

Maradona image at Stadio San Paolo in Naples

The trial could take place in a year and a half or two. According to reports in Argentina, there’s enough evidence for a case of voluntary manslaughter, but at this stage, it’s still too early to understand how this story will end.

Maradona died from a heart attack and had undergone brain surgery only one month before his death. He was discharged from the hospital only eight days later and according to the family lawyers, the medics’ negligence led to Maradona’s death.

The striker’s inheritance is also causing issues as it is still unclear who can claim it, given that the Napoli legend is believed to have unacknowledged sons and daughters in Argentina.

Last month, the family and his lawyers complained that many people are trying to make a profit by selling items with Maradona’s image and threatened legal actions.

“Dear friends, it has come to our attention that many people are trying to commercialize both the Diego Maradona name and his image rights which is, in effect, profiteering after his passing,” they wrote through Maradona’s official Instagram account.

“This is not legally permitted as his estate (both name and image rights) belongs solely to Diego Maradona’s heirs and any distribution of his name and image require absolute approval by aforementioned heirs.

“Any violation or non-adherence to the statutes of licensing therein granted by the heirs will be punishable in court to the full extent of the law. For all and any commercial activity, please discuss accordingly with ourselves and only ourselves through @maradonaheirs, and in Europe with our licensee @coolulustudio. We have some very exciting projects to be announced very soon!”

Maradona kits Napoli

There have been issues also regarding the latest Maradona shirt released by Napoli, with Diego’s son claiming he would sue his father’s former agent.

“We didn’t give the green light to this operation. That shirt is an honour for us, but we are sorry that Napoli did not involve us,” Maradona Jr. told Adnkronos at the beginning of the month.

“Stefano Ceci gave the authorization, he used to be my dad’s agent, but he no longer has this role.

“Us, the relatives are the only ones who can provide these authorizations. It sounds strange that a club like Napoli gave credibility to this person. Legal proceedings against Ceci have already started in Argentina.”

Meanwhile, the Partenopei have changed their coach, swapping Gennaro Gattuso with Luciano Spalletti.

They failed to earn a top-four finish last term, but are now the Serie A league leaders, level on points with Milan.

As Football Italia wrote a few weeks back, Maradona would enjoy the Partenopei’s playing style and results. If the Partenopei manage to win the Scudetto at the end of the season, Diego will be the first person everyone will think about.

In a city where the sacred and profane go hand in hand, it’s even more common than a year ago to see Maradona’s face hung in every local shop, sometimes close to images of saints. After all, that’s precisely what Maradona represented and still represents for Napoli.


Napoli fans pay tribute to Diego Armando Maradona outside the stadio San Paolo the day after his death


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