Maradona hoping for Napoli role
NAPLES, Italy (AP):
Former Napoli star Diego Maradona is in talks to work with the Serie A side, where he is still idolised nearly 27 years after leaving the club.
Maradona, who is in Naples for a theatrical event today celebrating the club's first title win, met with Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis on Saturday night.
"It was the first step," Maradona said yesterday. "First of all I have to sort out the problems I have here in Italy, then I can work for Napoli in Italy and in the world.
"We have to do things well because I want a winning team, a team that can play on level terms against Juve, Inter, Milan and Roma. He understood immediately because in these years he has grown from a president who didn't know much about football to become an expert today."
An Italian court is scheduled to finally end the decades-long battle between Maradona and the Italian government on Feb. 28.
Maradona has always insisted he does not owe any of the millions in back taxes the government claims are due.
The 56-year-old Argentine arrived in the city on Saturday night and was greeted by more than 100 cheering Napoli fans, who had waited in freezing
temperatures outside his hotel for a glimpse of their idol.
"It continues to surprise me," Maradona said. "There are kids who have never seen me play and today they get excited and cry for a photo with me.
"Every day I feel the affection and love the Neapolitan people have for me. The father has transmitted it to his son, who has then transmitted it to his and this will never end. After 30 years the same love continues, like the first woman you have in your life."
Maradona led Napoli to their only two league titles in 1987 and 1990 and scored a club record 115 goals between 1984 and 1991.
"After a match against Cremona at the beginning of the season which didn't count for anything but which drew 80,000 people, I understood that here at Napoli we needed to play for the title," Maradona said. "I came from Barcelona, where we could win, draw or lose, but here at Napoli no, I couldn't lose, I told myself then.
"I would have been ashamed to have 80,000 people and then not to win. And we won everywhere, at Juve, at Inter, at Roma... And if now Napoli can think it can win the title, it is thanks to me."