Naples renames icon after Maradona

The San Paolo Stadium was officially renamed the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Friday. The Argentinian died on Nov 25. PHOTO: REUTERS
The San Paolo Stadium was officially renamed the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Friday. The Argentinian died on Nov 25. PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME • Italian side Napoli's San Paolo Stadium has been officially renamed the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium after the late Argentina footballer who led them to their only two Serie A titles and the Uefa Cup, the city's council said on Friday.

Maradona died in his sleep on Nov 25 after a heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires, less than a month after his 60th birthday.

The city council approved the resolution proposed by Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris to change the stadium's name to honour the World Cup-winning great, who scored 115 goals in seven years at the club.

"I've been in talks with local authorities for the past 17 years, I've always asked to buy the stadium and rename it 'Diego Armando Maradona'," Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis told Sky in Italy.

"If then, for tradition, we will need to call it both 'San Paolo' and 'Maradona' so be it. It won't change much, but it's only right that Maradona has this recognition. Even if we were to build a whole new stadium, I would name it like that.

"Your years here remain indelible in the memories of the people of Naples - symbolic of a coveted redemption and yearned-for resurrection."

Maradona signed for Napoli in 1984 and helped the club conquer the northern teams such as Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan - the aristocratic establishment of Italian football - and briefly turned Serie A on its head.

Back home in Argentina, he could also have a street in Buenos Aires named after him under a proposal put forward on Friday by city council lawmakers.

They want to put his name to part of an avenue leading to the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, the team for whom Maradona began his career at the age of 15. That arena was already named after him in 2004.

The new bill also aims to create a "tourist, sporting and cultural circuit" in a 30-block area around the stadium as a "permanent tribute" to Maradona in the area where he started as a footballer.

"Nothing can equal the joy and happiness that Maradona gave the people of Argentina. But we think that this cultural and sporting circuit would be essential to keeping him alive, now and forever," said city councillor Claudio Morresi, the sponsor of the legislation.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2020, with the headline 'Naples renames icon after Maradona'. Subscribe