My Team & I: Napoli

By Paolo Mancini

Twitter: @Napoli_Blogger



I was born into a part Neapolitan and part ‘Geordie’ family, I never really got into watching Newcastle United partially because we didn’t have Sky as a child so the only football I could really watch was Serie A on a Sunday afternoon. Because of this Napoli became my number one club. I still follow Newcastle, after all it is my home city but the Azzurri holds a very special place in my heart.


It would be easy to say Diego Maradona or Careca but they were a little before my time. The player I always used to enjoy watching was Brazilian defender Andre Cruz. He arrived at Napoli in 1994 from Belgian side Standard Leige after the club sold Ciro Ferrara to Juventus that summer. I had never heard of him and only seen little snippets about in publications such as World Soccer magazine. I thought he was just another cut-price player brought in because the club couldn’t afford a quality replacement. How wrong I was…

In the three seasons he was at Napoli he got back into the Brazilian national side and helped the club get the Coppa Italia final. He was an excellent reader of the game, able to get a tackle at the last minute. He was assured on the ball and was able to play the ball out from the back with ease. He was also an excellent free kick taker and would score many a goal from around 20-30 yards. During a period in the mid to late 90s when the club was running on a hand to mouth basis he was the rock you could depend on in the troubled times.

(Andre is on the left.)


One moment stands above any other. The day Aurelio De Laurentiis gave the city of Naples a football club. A city the size of Naples deserves a Serie A football club, the thought of Naples without a side is unthinkable. The club had went bust in the summer of 2004, Luciano Gaucci was circling, trying to get funds together to start the ‘franchise’ of Napoli but wasn’t permitted by the ‘powers that be’ as he called them, thankfully a sensible businessman by the name of Aurelio De Laurentiis came in and gave Naples a football team to follow.

For those older than me Maradona is the be all and end of all of Napoli. My Maradona is Aurellio De Laurentiis. He saved the name of Napoli and gave the city a professional football club. For this many others and I are eternally grateful.


Aurellio De Laurentiis is known for his rants, he warned his players tempted by a move to England of the virtues of British woman in colourful fashion…

‘If they want to go to England then in the end they’re going to go, but they need to understand this, the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.’

I was speechless after reading that, oh Aurelio…..


Napoli have had some fantastic kits, the Mars shirt from the late 80s is probably the most famous thanks to those that wore it but my favourite kit is actually away kit from the early 90’s. Napoli’s usual second strip is usually all white but this kit was a variation of this with a blue pattern around the neck and on the arms


Oh goodness, the shipping costs of the Napoli webstore are ridiculous. In all honesty knowing a day in the very near future one of the big players such as Marek Hamsik or Edinson Cavani WILL move to another club but not knowing when that will be. Last summer Napoli sent Fabio Quagliarella to Juventus, which wasn’t a surprise to me as Aurellio De Laurentiis said he wasn’t un-sellable but it still hurt with him being a Neapolitan boy. I know the Earth will keeping turning and the sun will continue to rise and fall but I don’t know how the fans or club could cope if one of the beloved stars left the club.


My favourite Napoli game was the contest with Inter from the 07/08 season at home. Inter were unbeaten in Serie A all year and were coming to the San Paolo, they were ravaged by injuries and suspension. It felt beforehand like a game too far for them and so it proved. Napoli completely outplayed Inter from start to finish. Marcelo Zalayeta scored the only goal after three minutes but Napoli could have had four or five easily. Zalayeta even missed a penalty near the end but it didn’t matter and Napoli recorded a famous victory.

Leave a Reply