Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti hopes Serie A title can help fans ‘get through difficult moments’ in heartfelt interview referencing Diego Maradona

Luciano Spalletti Diego Maradona Napoli
Luciano Spalletti has delivered a passionate speech on the back of Napoli’s Serie A title win, with Diego Maradona referenced by the emotional coach.
  • Italian top-flight crown captured
  • First success since 1990
  • Legends made of current stars

WHAT HAPPENED? Wild scenes of celebration in Naples were sparked on Thursday, with a 1-1 draw away at Udinese enough to wrap up a first domestic crown since 1990. Argentine icon Maradona was still turning out for Gil Azzurri back then, with the likes of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia now emulating his achievements. Spalletti is delighted to be the manager to get Napoli over that line, with long-suffering supporters given something to shout about that should help them “get through difficult moments”.

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WHAT THEY SAID: Spalletti has told DAZN of securing domestic dominance in Italy with five games to spare: “There are people here who will be able to get through difficult moments in their lives because they remember this moment. These people deserve all the joy. It perhaps makes me feel more relaxed now, we’ve been able to give them that joy. These fans have seen huge coaches come and go. They saw Diego Armando Maradona play and perhaps his protection is also felt in this success. So it becomes difficult then to tell them, yes we finished third last season and were challenging for the title. I hear coaches say this is only our third season together, but the pressure is on to win.

"Our primary objective was to maintain a Champions League place. Some protested against the team last summer and I did not like that. When I said we had to challenge for the Scudetto, people complained and felt I had got ahead of myself or crossed a line. But what I said was to bring the maximum out of these players and also to build a mentality to carry on. This season is like the second half, last season was also splendid and we never had our objective in doubt. [Rafa] Benitez, [Carlo] Ancelotti, [Maurizio] Sarri with the best football in Italy, [Gennaro] Gattuso who won the Coppa Italia have been through it, so what am I coming here for? It’s not like I can say we want to avoid relegation. We have to win.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Napoli have collected 25 victories from their 33 games this season, suffering just three defeats, and sit 16 points clear of the chasing pack having dominated the Italian top-flight throughout the 2022-23 campaign.

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diego maradona napoli 1987

Víctor Osimhen Napoli Serie A

WHAT NEXT? The challenge facing Napoli now is keeping their exciting squad intact, with the likes of 27-goal striker Osimhen, Georgian sensation Kvaratskhelia and South Korean defender Kim Min-jae all generating exit talk ahead of the summer transfer window.