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The World Seen With  A Football Fan's Eye

SSC Napoli

15.12.2013 SERIE A 2013/2014
SSC Napoli - Inter Milan 4:2


After several years of “starving” some big hopes for great football and even greater success lightened up in Naples. It was no coincidence at all, that the taxi driver who drove us from the airport into the hotel, once realised we are football fans he took a little picture of Diego Maradona out of his pocket and solemnly kissed it. The Argentine’s football legend was the King of Naples in the second half of the 80s of the last century. Bought on 30th June 1984 from FC Barcelona (Napleas mafia was reportedly behind the deal), he led SSC Napoli to win the double in 1986/87 season: Italian Championship along with the Cup.
Rafael Benitez was appointed the team’s coach before this season and he almost immediately signed Claudio Reina from Liverpool along with Jose Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrd – the three players unwanted in their respective clubs. The biggest SCC Napoli star still remains Marek Hamsik – the Slovak offensive midfield with a distinctive irokez on his head who did not show up fot the match due to injury though.
Various souvenirs are available for sale at the foot of the stadium, as usual, including scarves of which the most popular appeared the one with an indecent phrase about Juventus – hence providing the Napoli and Inter fans with the so called common ground. Around forty thousand spectators came to Stadio San Paolo that evening, including a pretty numerous group of the Inter tifosi – all dressed in black. The first minutes of the game were all about a sort of mutual “palpating” of the two rivals worth themselves. The hosts appeared slightly more determined and Higuain opened the score in the 9th minute. This did not cast down Inter though led by Cambiasso who replaced in this role another Argentinean, the Milan club legend, Zanetti who this time was seated on the substitute bench (“Signum temporis”, presumably). The Azzuro-neri’ s Captain scored the equaliser in the 35th minute and when everyone though Inter would follow the impact, Napoli showed their sting twice within just three minutes introducing the crowds to the state of euphoria. Inter then confirmed their reputation: they recovered from the wounds suffered and scored again shortly before the end of the first half. The half time score heralded tons of emotions to be had in the second half and the premonition was right. Inter’s domination was hardly questionable yet Napoli launched several spicy fast breaks. One of those appeared successful – Callejon celebrated the goal in the 81st minute crowning his overall superb performance on that day. Although it is common in football that a better performing and tactically more mature team may lose a match, some distaste remained: the referee sent out Inter’s Alvarez (another Argentinean by the way) for a reported hand play (unintentional in my colleagues’ and my own opinion). This adversely impacted the visitor’s team creative capabilities in particular and, same time, slightly overshadowed the Napoli’s success.To get a taxi (for 5 men) after the match was, as expected, a challenge. We succeeded though and the driver without any pardon asked for a 5 Euro tip for his efforts and risk (officially he was allowed to take four passengers on board). “...knock and the door will be opened...”.