“Maradona was both the best and the worst of all that my land has generated”

Roberto Saviano.

Tribune. How to tell the French what Diego Armando Maradona represents for a Neapolitan? I will never get there. I can’t do it. I am part of the Maradona generation, the one who grew up in Naples in the cult of Diego. I was born in 1979. I was 7 when Napoli won their first Italian championship, 10 when they won second. Diego is both the best and the worst of all that my land has generated.

How to explain that, exactly like a god, his vices, his errors, his crimes were only the shadows which made this god even more luminous? Exactly like a god, his faults made him like us. In legends, the cruelty of the gods, their errors make their value stand out even more. How to explain that Maradona was our redemption?

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Imagine a land emerging from a devastating earthquake (that of 1980), undermined by unemployment, torn by the wars of the Camorra. Imagine the arrival of a boy born in an extremely poor neighborhood, who promises to bring happiness and who keeps his promise. Which allows Naples to be admired and feared all over the world. Thanks to his magnificent game, this little Argentinian who has just set foot in Naples finds 80,000 people to welcome him. Only to greet him. This is where the pact between the city and Maradona is made: Diego promises to do his best and the city promises to love him. And so it will be. I will never forget that moment when, in 1989, we won the UEFA Cup, in Stuttgart, the stadium full of Neapolitan emigrants who felt themselves victorious for the first time in their lives.

An Argentinian Neapolitan

How to explain to the French that the love of Maradona was born because Diego did not go to play at Juventus in Turin or at Olympique de Marseille, that he stayed in Naples, because that is where everything had one direction. Elsewhere he would have won double. Diego was perfect for Naples, he was an Argentinian Neapolitan, he seemed made to make these people fall in love.

In 1985, he went to play on a seedy sports field in the town of Acerra, near Naples, in one of his eternal gestures of generosity. The father of a boy who needed an operation to save his life had asked Maradona to play Acerra to raise funds. Ferlaino, the president of SSC Naples, had rejected his request, and Maradona paid a clause of 12 million lira (6,200 euros) to go play on this muddy ground, cursing the British insurance company: “Fuck the Lloyds of London, I’ll play anyway.” “

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