The Italian Almanac

Diego Maradona, el pibe de oro

Italian News - June 10

Diego Maradona returned to Naples Thursday, his first visit to the Italian city since leaving under a cloud of controversy 14 years ago. The Argentine legend, who led Napoli to two Italian league titles and a UEFA Cup triumph in his seven seasons there, has come back to take part in a testimonial match for his former Napoli team-mate Ciro Ferrara.

Around a thousand fans greeted their former hero as he arrived at his hotel in the centre of the city accompanied by his ex-wife and daughter. Maradona joined Napoli from Barcelona in 1984 and used their underdog status as a motivational tool, turning the club into a symbol of southern working class pride.

But he fled in 1991 after receiving a 15-month ban for testing positive for cocaine and was investigated for alleged connections to a Neapolitan mafia vice ring. It proved to be the start of a spectacular fall from grace and despite moderate success elsewhere he was never the same player after leaving Italy.