SEIZE THE MOMENT
Lifting the trophy is an unforgettable experience that can define a player’s career, as these four former winners explain
'I WASN'T AWARE OF WHAT
I HAD DONE'
Football in Naples is a religion and an indescribable passion. Wearing the Napoli shirt is the dream of any player born in the city. I had the honour of wearing that prestigious shirt – and I was lucky that Napoli’s best years coincided with my time at the club.
We maybe felt like favourites going into the final, but we didn’t make a good start and went behind. For all of us, it was our first time getting so far in a tournament that important, except for Maradona, who’d won the World Cup. It was something completely new and unique, so we were also very nervous – not just us but the city in general. But there’s always been a magical atmosphere at San Paolo, especially on European nights.
We finished the job away to Stuttgart in front of 20,000 Napoli fans. It was an incredibly happy moment, and we knew it wasn’t just the passionate supporters in Naples who were celebrating, but also our fans all over the world and in Germany, in particular. There was a huge Neapolitan community there, so we knew we’d achieved something incredible for them. Many were immigrants who couldn’t wait to enjoy a moment of great happiness with us.
My goal came from a corner. There was a rebound, the ball was cleared from the area and Maradona, who’d taken the corner, headed it back into the box. I burst into the box, got in front of the defender and hit it on the volley. The goalkeeper couldn’t do anything. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. My face said it all. I was so emotional. I wasn’t aware of what I’d done. It was my team-mates hugging me which brought me back to the present moment.
It was an indescribable feeling. I watch it often and say: “Dear God, what a goal I scored!” It’s really wonderful, even if most people remember Maradona’s header. That goal took us towards victory, because we were winning 2-1 in Germany and obviously in a strong position after the first-leg result. Being from Naples, I was thinking about the joy I was bringing to our fans and to my family, who’d not been able to come to the game but who were watching on TV.
Napoli’s first and so far only European trophy came after a hard-fought two-legged contest with Stuttgart in 1989, the Partenopei battling back to win 2-1 at home before a 3-3 draw in Germany. Defender Ciro Ferrara was among their second-leg scorers and, as he explains, he still enjoys watching his goal, set up by a certain Diego Maradona.