Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It was 20 years ago today...

…but it has nothing to do with Sgt. Pepper!

On May 10, 1987, the Societá Sportiva Calcio Napoli celebrated its first Italian league title (Scudetto) in 61 years of history.

And it was all due to that little giant of a genius called Diego Armando MARADONA.

After a couple of not-so-relevant seasons at FC Barcelona, MARADONA arrived in Napoli in July, 1984 in a move that changed the life of the club and the city forever.

DIEGO’s first season at Napoli was not an easy ride. The team had a horrible start but they managed to change their fortunes in the second half of the season to finally end up in the 8th position.

A few new players came to face the new season and the team started to perform better. But still, the league title escaped them as they finished in 3rd place.

With newly promoted youngter Ciro FERRARA, a product of the Napoli youth teams and the arrival of forward Andrea CARNEVALE, the 1986-87 season started with some signs that showed the team could only improve.

The signings made the previous season (with players like Bruno GIORDANO, Salvatore BAGNI, Claudio GARELLA and Alessandro RENICA) started to gel perfectly to finally give MARADONA a decent core of players to help him fight for the Scudetto.

DIEGO played 29 of the 30 league matches and was Napoli’s top-scorer with 10 goals (Brescia, Sampdoria (2. One at home. One away.), Atalanta, Roma, Empoli, Fiorentina, Udinese (2) and AC Milan.

At the end of a brilliant season, Napoli had to play against Fiorentina, needing only a draw to secure their first ever league title. And that was the result they got. A goal from Andrea CARNEVALE and another from Roberto BAGGIO for Fiorentina declared a 1-1 draw that sent the Stadio San Paolo and the whole city into delirium.

Later that year, Napoli won the Coppa Italia (defeating Atalanta in the final) to achieve the Double.

Napoli were to win the UEFA Cup in 1988-89, the Scudetto again in 1989-90, and the Italian Super Cup the same season.
The post-MARADONA era was horrible for Napoli as they were relegated three times since Diego left. Twice to Serie B and once to Serie C.

These days they are fighting their way up to Serie A again. They trail Juventus and they are fighting head to head against Genoa for the second place in Serie B which means automatic promotion. If both Napoli and Genoa can separate themselves 10 points from the fourth-placed team, then they will both get automatic promotion since the rules say there won’t be playoffs if such a thing happens. With five matches to be played, Genoa sit second with 70 points. Napoli are third with 68 and Mantova are fourth with 60. So, there’s everything to be played in the next five matches and we might have Napoli back in the top-flight again.

On a curious note, Napoli and Genoa will face each other in the last game of the season!

There’s an Argentine player there: striker Roberto SOSA, who scored 5 goals this season.

DIEGO is out of hospital (again!) and he attended a TV show this week and went to the stadium to watch a third division game in Buenos Aires.

FORZA DIEGO! I hope you have a good recovery, once and for all.

But we were talking about the glory days.

It was May 10, 1987.

It was twenty years ago today, MARADONA taught the band to play!


Seba said...

If you have the time and you really want to watch that Napoli team in's a link to a series of videos (20 videos of 6-7 minutes each!) with the story of that season!

The guy who uploaded them did a great job and you will see they are tagged as 1/20; 2/20; 3/20 so you can follow them in order.

I haven't seen them myself, but it looks interesting.


alwin said...

It feels so good today, Gabriel Heinze was given the Captains Armband and was the first to walk through the "GUARD OF HONOUR" lined up by CHELSEA players. Applause to the Champions and HEINZE for a great season.

Watch it here:-


John said...

20 years wow!!! I was only seven years old then I remember watching the highlights of that week matches on a Sunday afternoon with my uncle.

I was a bit confused then on why DIEGO’s jersey colour looks different from the one I remember when I first saw him. That’s when my uncle clarify to me that he plays his club football for Napoli.

And double wow for HEINZE!!! capitán rojo del diablo

johnny said...

Alert ! Breaking news forwarded to me by Seba this morning !


That is confirmed. But the most relevant piece of news we have from today is that our Youth Team will be really strong in the U20 World Cup to be played in Canada. Why???

Because Sergio KUN AGÜERO, Gonzalo HIGUAIN and hot-shot Mauro ZARATE will all be a part of the team that will be managed (nothing is perfect) by Hugo TOCALLI. That is, if KUN accepts the call (which reportedly he said he will, even though he wanted to play the Copa America with the big boys).

The U20's debut will be against the Czech Republic on June 30th in Ottawa.

This way, AGÜERO will play his second Youth World Cup (after being co-star to Lionel MESSI in the Netherlands 2005 when Argentina won the trophy). But that time, KUN was a supporting actor and he only played 85 total minutes in 4 matches. Now it'll be expected that he takes command of the team and plays his Youth World Cup, like MESSI did two years ago.

There are some reasons for BASILE to leave KUN out of the Copa America. He considers he has good depth up front, with names like: CRESPO, TEVEZ, SAVIOLA, Diego MILITO, PAVONE and PALACIO. Plus...he was not really that impress with KUN's performances in La Liga this season. He scored 6 goals in 32 matches and he showed that he struggled a bit to adapt to a new style of play. And COCO wants KUN to gain in confidence and to slowly earn a place in the senior national team in the future.

johnny said...

MORE breaking news from the exiled desk of Seba:

The friendly match that was supposed to be played in June 6th between Argentina and Australia has been postponed and will now be played on September 11 in a venue to be decided (but it'll probably be in Australia).

Our rival for June 6 is still to be decided but it was confirmed that it'll be played somewhere in Europe.

Thanks for the updates Seba !!