By Abba Gwale
San Paolo stadium will see its name changed to honour the legendary figure, who passed away last week at the age of 60
The Naples city council has unanimously approved a resolution that will change the name of Napoli’s home stadium from Stadio San Paolo to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The resolution was proposed by Naples mayor Luigi De Magistris only hours after the news that Maradona had passed away at age 60 last week.
Maradona is a revered figure in Naples after leading the city’s club to two Serie A titles during his seven-year run with Napoli from 1984 to 1991.
“With his immense talent and his magic, he honoured the Napoli shirt for seven years, giving it two historical championships and other prestigious cups, and receiving in exchange from the whole city an eternal and unconditional love,” a statement from the council read.
The statement also noted the connection the working-class city shared with Maradona, who was raised in poverty in his native Buenos Aires.
“Through the football victories of the Argentine champion, it was not only the Napoli team that won but the whole city, which fully identifies with him,” it read.
“Always on the side of the weakest and the common people, Maradona fought the prejudices and discrimination that Neapolitans were still subjected to inside the stadiums, becoming the idol of the entire city.”
Napoli had the chance to pay tribute to Maradona last week during their Europa League match at home against Rijeka. Captain Lorenzo Insigne laid a wreath before kick-off, while the Napoli team lined up in ‘Maradona 10’ shirts.
After the game, which Napoli won 2-0, forward Dries Mertens told Sky Sport Italia: “It was an awful moment for me, so I can only imagine how those who lived through his time at Napoli must have felt.
“He made such a big impact on this city and for everyone in the south of Italy. I want to be positive, and focus on my memories of a smiling man who loved football. It was tough to pull that shirt on. In some ways, it was always a dream, but not like this.”
The final step in the stadium’s name change will be the authorisation of the Prefect of the Province of Naples, which is expected to be a formality.