Diego Maradona says Napoli have got everything it takes to be successful in Italy and in Europe as he looks forward to his next visit to Naples in March when his former club face Real Madrid in the round of 16 of the Champions League.
The Napoli legend was back in Naples for a theatre performance on Monday night and his return saw him build bridges with the club’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who has offered him a role as an ambassador, and coach Maurizio Sarri, whom he has criticised in the past.
Maradona told Gazzetta dello Sport that Madrid face a real challenge in facing Napoli in the Champions League.
“I don’t think the Spaniards believe that beating Napoli is going to be easy,” said the 56-year-old. “Of course they will have the advantage of having players like [Gareth] Bale and [Karim] Benzema — two irreplaceable players — back, but if they were to play today, Napoli would have a huge chance of going through.
“I’ve had enough of seeing Napoli fighting for second or third place. Behind us, we have people who want to win the scudetto, and these fans deserve it.”
Napoli have not won Serie A since 1990 — the second of two titles they won with Maradona — and the Argentine says those days changed the entire city.
“With football, we gained the country’s respect and, these days here, I’ve discovered an even more beautiful Naples, fascinating as ever,” he said. “People still remember that first scudetto 30 years ago and there is not one person I have met who has not told me their memories of those emotional moments.”