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It’s a small world.

In the news letter of March 15, I wrote about unforgettable moments in soccer. I’m including an extract of that article here to underline how, sometimes, we live in a small world.


Decades ago in Italy, the Naples team was at the level of Juventus, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan.

Maradona had brought a winning mentality to them. A team that was barely surviving at the bottom of the standing almost falling into the B division every year, was fighting to win the championship.

Most of you are not Italian (too bad), but you can clearly understand the rivalry between a city from central Italy that’s struggling to survive, compared to a northern metropolis like Milano, the world capital of fashion, design and other crucial businesses. Very often when Europeans think about choosing a capital of Europe, Milano is one of the few choices.

So, there are great rivalries multiplied by hundreds when on the soccer field.

Naples and A.C. Milan lead the standing for the whole season until, almost the end of it, when they had to play each other at the Naples stadium.

It was a great game, with spectacular alternate action in both directions. Milan scored, Naples tied and the game kept going. In a certain moment, A.C. Milan, as happened many other times, had 10 unstoppable minutes in which they scored two times, going to 3-1. At that moment all 76,000 spectators for the Naples team, raised and clapped their hands for A.C. Milan, their ‘soccer enemy’, accepting the defeat and recognizing the superiority of the other team. It was something really rare in the history of soccer that makes the people of Naples ‘unique’ as fans and good citizens.


After this article, I received this email from a reader who now lives in America, but in those days lived in London and, for the reason you can read about below, was at the Naples stadium and saw that great game!!!!!


It’s a small world. I was at the same game in Naples. My over-riding memory was, even though Napoli lost 3-1 and AC had Van Basten, Guillit etc., the game was dominated by one player, Diego.

Here’s the scoop. I’m English by the way and moved out here in 1995.

We were out drinking in a pub in London with some soccer mates and wives and meeting up with my sister-in-law who had just returned from a month in Naples, staying with some Catholic priests. The beers were flowing, obviously the conversation was focused on the beautiful game and the merits of Napoli and Maradona versus the English clubs.

After a few more beers, the priests said we should “come out and watch a game”. We said “sure, if you can get the tickets!”. Anyway many weeks passed and my sister-in-law called me out of the blue and said the priests had got us 8 tickets for Napoli v AC Milan.

So 8 of us hopped on a plane, stayed in the monastery and watched the game.

I had been to many English games, but this was on another scale. The whole of Naples closed down, the streets were packed, cars were honking horns and this was before the game! We got there 3 hours early and the stadium was packed.

Atmosphere was great and as I said before the best players in the world were on show and arguably some of the best players of all time in Van Basten, Guillit. I think Koeman or Rikaard was playing as well and Baresi. But I have never seen a professional game in which one player shone like Diego did. He won every tackle like Keane, dribbled past players like Giggs, passed the ball like Hoddle and ran his heart out even though they lost 3-1.

It’s interesting because many times I have had the debate of Pele v Diego? I am biased because I saw him the flesh, but Guillit and Baresi would be close to my all time eleven, and Maradona shone head and shoulders above them.


David Hallan.

Posted on 17 Apr 2006 by coachgianni
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