Ultimate Napoli dream team - Maradona and Cavani in, no Higuain

Napoli dream team
Napoli's all time best XI consists of some all-time greats

Italian giants Napoli have been home to some of the greatest footballers we've ever seen.

Well, if you didn't already know, Diego Maradona once glorified the beautiful city of Naples, and let us assure you that the great Argentine wasn't the only one.

Over the years, some of the most technically gifted footballers have turned out in the famous blue kit of Napoli and today, we attempt at creating the greatest XI in their history!

  1. GK: Dino Zoff
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    GK: Dino Zoff

    The only Italian player to have won both a European Championship and a World Cup in his career is Dino Zoff. The legendary shot-stopper joined Napoli from Mantova in 1967 and went on to make 143 Serie A appearances for the club.

    Zoff's most impressive career achievements came at Juventus, where he won nine trophies after joining them in 1972.

    Three other Napoli goalkeepers deserve recognition too.

    First is Ottavio Bugatti. The Italian shot-stopper arrived at Napoli from SPAL in 1953 and made 256 appearances for them until 1961 before joining Inter.

    The second goalie is Luciano Castellini. The Italian goalkeeper played 267 games for Torino in all competitions before moving to Napoli in 1978. In Naples, Castellini made 203 appearances for the club in Serie A. He also held the record for going unbeaten for 531 consecutive minutes. This record was later broken by Dino Zoff.

    Third would be Pepe Reina. The Spaniard initially joined Napoli on loan from Liverpool in 2013 for a season. Bayern Munich signed him in 2014, but after just one season there, he returned to Naples in 2015, making over a century of appearances for the club until 2018. Reina won the 2013-14 Coppa Italia with Napoli.

  2. RB: Giuseppe Bruscolotti
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    RB: Giuseppe Bruscolotti

    One of the best players and the captain of Napoli's maiden Serie A title-winning team in 1987, Giuseppe Bruscolotti takes the right-back spot in this dream team.

    The defender arrived in Naples from Sorrento in 1972 and stayed at the club for 16 years, making over 500 appearances for the club across all competitions, with 387 of them coming in Serie A.

    He won five trophies in Naples, winning a league title, two Coppa Italia trophies and an Anglo-Italian League Cup.

    There's a lot of competition for this spot in Napoli's Dream Team as three other players deserve a mention.

    First would be Christian Maggio who joined Napoli from Sampdoria in 2008. He spent a decade in Naples, making over 300 appearances and winning two Coppa Italia titles as well as a Supercoppa Italiana.

    Secondly, there's Giovanni Di Lorenzo. The Euro 2020-winning right-back joined Napoli from Empoli in 2019 and has made over 120 appearances for the club. He was part of the team which won the 2019-20 Coppa Italia.

    And finally, there's Elseid Hysaj. Like Di Lorenzo, Albanian international Hysaj also arrived from Empoli, but in 2015. He stayed in Naples until 2021, making 223 appearances for the club.

  3. CB: Alessandro Renica
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    CB: Alessandro Renica

    Adept in playing as a sweeper as well as a full-back on occasions, Alessandro Renica won several trophies during his time at Napoli.

    The Italian defender joined Napoli from Sampdoria in 1985 and made 136 appearances for the club. His tactical excellence and leadership lead the Naples-based club to win two Serie A titles, a Uefa Cup, a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana while he was present in defence.

    There are a couple of other centre-backs who could feature here, starting with Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese defender joined Napoli in 2014 and spent eight years at the club before joining Chelsea in 2022. In Naples, he played over 300 games, winning the Supercoppa Italiana in 2014 and the Coppa Italia in 2019-20.

    The next centre-back worthy of a mention here is Paolo Cannavaro. The Italian defender graduated from Napoli's academy and even made two senior appearances for them in his first spell before joining Parma in 1999. In 2006, he returned to Napoli and went on to make 236 appearances for the club until 2014, including becoming club captain and helping Napoli being promoted to Serie A in 2007.

  4. CB: Moreno Ferrario
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    CB: Moreno Ferrario

    Napoli's third-highest appearance maker of all time, Moreno Ferrario joined the club from Varese in 1977, played 311 games for them in Serie A and made close to 400 appearances in all competitions until 1988.

    At the club, he helped them win a Serie A title and a Coppa Italia in the 1986-87 season. Ferrario joined Roma in 1988.

    Two other stars could also feature in our dream team at centre-back.

    First being Raul Albiol. The Spaniard joined Napoli from Real Madrid in 2013 and stayed there for six years, making 180 appearances in Serie A. He won a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana during his time there.

    Secondly, Hugo Campagnaro arrived in Naples from Sampdoria in 2009 and stayed there until 2013, making 143 appearances for the club in all competitions between 2009 and 2013. He won a Coppa Italia in the 2011-12 season with Napoli.

  5. LB: Ciro Ferrara
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    LB: Ciro Ferrara

    A club legend with both Napoli and Juventus, Ciro Ferrara graduated from Napoli's youth academy before being promoted to the first team.

    The left-back made close to 250 appearances for Napoli in a decade-long stint between 1984 and 1994.

    During his time in Naples, Ferrera came up with some crucial moments as he scored one of Napoli's goals in their 1989 Uefa Cup final win.

    In addition to the Uefa Cup, he won two Serie A titles (in 1986–87 and 1989–90), the 1987 Coppa Italia, and the 1990 Supercoppa Italiana with Napoli. Ferrara joined Juventus in 1994.

    Legendary left-backs Ruud Krol and Giovanni Francini deserve a mention here.

    Starting with Krol, the defender joined Napoli from Vancouver Whitecaps in 1980 and played in Italy until 1984, making 107 appearances. The two-time World Cup runner-up did not win any trophies during his time in Naples, but was one of their best performers in his time there.

    Giovanni Francini joined Maradona's Napoli from Torino in 1987. He stayed in Naples for seven years, making 184 appearances, winning a Serie A title, a Supercoppa Italiana and a Uefa Cup while also reaching a Coppa Italia final.

  6. CM: Antonio Juliano
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    CM: Antonio Juliano

    One of Napoli's finest, Antonio Juliano helped bring silverware for both his club and the Italian national side in the 1960s and 70s. He also made the third most appearances for Napoli behind Marek Hamsik and Bruscolotti, two other players who feature in this Napoli dream team.

    Juliano made 394 appearances for Napoli between 1962 and 1978, winning three trophies at the club.

    He is joined in this dream team by Pierluigi Ronzon.

    Ronzon played for some of the top clubs in Italy between 1952 and 1968, featured for Sampdoria, Atalanta, Milan, Napoli and Lazio, but achieved legendary status in Naples. He joined Napoli from Milan in 1961 and went on to make 200 appearances for the club until 1967. He became a club legend when he scored a cup-winning goal in the 1961–62 Coppa Italia final against Spal 1907 as it was the first time in history that a club from Serie B had won the Coppa Italia.

  7. CM: Marek Hamsik
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    CM: Marek Hamsik

    After joining Napoli in 2007, Marek Hamsik formed an incredible attacking trio alongside players like Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, who also feature in our dream team.

    The Slovakian midfielder spent 12 seasons as the backbone of Napoli's midfield. Not only that, but he also scored more than 10 goals in eight of the 12 seasons he featured for the club, a great output for someone who played deep in midfield.

    Hamsik helped Napoli to two Coppa Italia trophies and a Supercoppa Italiana and broke records for the number of appearances (520) and goals (121) in all competitions. Since he left the club in 2019, Hamsik's goal-scoring record was later broken by Dries Mertens.

    Another Napoli great joins Hamsik here and that is Fernando De Napoli. The midfielder arrived in Naples in 1986 and played for six years at the club, making 241 appearances. He was a regular in their golden generation team with Diego Maradona that won four major trophies in four seasons between 1986 and 1990. During his six-year spell in Naples, De Napoli won the Scudetto in 1987 and 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, the Uefa Cup in 1989, and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1990.

  8. RW: Dries Mertens
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    RW: Dries Mertens

    Napoli were left highly depleted out wide after the departure of Ezequiel Lavezzi to PSG in 2012. To fill that gap, they signed Dries Mertens from PSV Eindhoven in 2013 as he became then-manager Rafa Benitez's first signing as manager.

    The Belgian maestro ended up becoming one of Napoli's greatest-ever legends, making over 300 appearances for the club.

    Mertens won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana with Napoli in 2014, and was named in the Serie A Team of the Year during the 2016–17 season. In 2020, he scored his 122nd goal for the club, surpassing Marek Hamsik as Napoli's all-time top goalscorer.

    Before Mertens arrived, Napoli's right wing was ruled by Lavezzi. The Argentine winger arrived in Naples from San Lorenzo in 2007 and played there until 2012 and won his first trophy at the club on 20 May of that year as they defeated Juventus 2–0 in the Coppa Italia final. This was Napoli's first trophy in more than 20 years. Lavezzi scored 48 goals and provided 57 assists in 188 games in all competitions for Napoli.

  9. CAM: Diego Maradona

    CAM: Diego Maradona

    After two underwhelming years at Barcelona, Diego Maradona joined Napoli in 1984 and stayed there until 1991.

    During his era at the club, Napoli successfully broke the dominance of clubs like as Milan, Juventus, Inter, and Roma. Not just that, no team in the south of the Italian Peninsula had ever won a league title. That was all about to change once Maradona arrived in Naples.

    Led by the Argentine, Napoli won their first-ever Serie A Italian Championship in 1986–87 and he immediately rose to become the club's greatest-ever player.

    Maradona's era saw Napoli win two Serie A titles (1986-87 and 1989-90), the Coppa Italia in 1987, the Uefa Cup in 1989, and the Italian Super Cup in 1990. During the 1989 Uefa Cup final against Stuttgart, Maradona scored from a penalty and assisted the match-winning goal in a 2–1 home victory in the first leg, while in the second leg which was a 3–3 away draw, he assisted Ferrara's goal with a header.
    Maradona scored 115 goals for Napoli between 1984 and 1991 and was the club's leading goalscorer before Marek Hamsik broke the record in 2017.

    An embodiment of Napoli's era in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Antonio Vojak arrived in Naples from Juventus in 1929. He went on to play there until 1935, scoring 102 goals in 190 games.

  10. LW: Lorenzo Insigne
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    LW: Lorenzo Insigne

    One of the most loved Napoli players of all time, Lorenzo Insigne was born and brought up in Naples. He made his debut for Napoli in the 2009-10 season, but it wasn’t until the 2012-13 season that Insigne became a regular at the club.

    In 2013, he helped Napoli win the Coppa Italia as he ended up top scorer in the tournament. He won another Coppa Italia for the club in the 2019-20 season.

    Insigne ranks fifth in both the number of appearances (397) and goals (107) for Napoli. He left the club to join Toronto FC in 2022.

    A player who featured alongside Insigne at Napoli, Jose Callejon deserves a mention in this dream team. The Spaniard arrived in Naples from Real Madrid in 2013 and stayed at the club until 2020, making 349 appearances for the club, scoring 82 goals and providing 79 assists in his time there. At Napoli, Callejon won two Italian Cups and an Italian Super Cup.

  11. ST: Edinson Cavani

    ST: Edinson Cavani

    Not many can surpass Edinson Cavani's legacy in Naples. The Uruguayan beast initially joined Napoli from Palermo on a season-long loan in 2010. In his first season, he scored 26 goals in 35 games, leading to Napoli making his move permanent in 2011.

    Cavani stayed in Naples until 2013, scoring 104 goals in just 138 games in all competitions before PSG signed him in 2013. He won an Italian Cup with Napoli.

    There are as many as four other great strikers who we are about to give a massive shoutout to!

    Firstly, Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain, who was signed by Napoli from Real Madrid for €39 million in 2013. In the 2015–16 season, he scored 36 league goals, winning the Capocannoniere title and equalling Gino Rossetti's 87-year-old record for goals in an Italian top-flight season. Higuain scored 91 goals in 146 appearances in all competitions for Napoli before Juventus signed him for €90m in 2016. He won a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana in Naples.

    Then comes Attila Sallustro, who was so loyal to play for Napoli that he refused to get paid for playing at the club. He scored 107 goals in 258 appearances for the club between 1926 and 1937. Napoli, however, once thanked him for his services by gifting him an expensive car!

    The third striker here is Gianfranco Zola, who joined Napoli in 1989 and stayed there until 1993, scoring 36 goals in 135 games in all competitions at the club. He helped the club win Serie A in his first season at the club alongside Diego Maradona.

    And lastly, we have Careca, who was Zola's strike partner at Napoli the early 1990s. He joined the club in 1987 and went on to make 221 appearances, scoring 96 goals. He won a Serie A, a Uefa Cup and an Italian Super Cup with Napoli.