Napoli have unveiled a statue with a golden left foot in honour of club legend Diego Maradona.
The Italian club made an emotional tribute on Saturday, one day before what would have been the 62nd birthday of the iconic Argentine forward, who passed away in November 2020.
And Luciano Spalletti’s side marked the occasion with a 4-0 thrashing of Sassuolo thanks to Victor Osimhen’s hat-trick at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, named after their former star, to move further clear at the top of the table.
Football writer Sacha Pisani tweeted: ‘Fitting, that on what would’ve been Diego Maradona’s 62nd birthday, Napoli are putting on another masterclass. At this stage, it’s not surprising. But after the pre-game tribute, Diego would be proud.’
A giant banner of Maradona was placed on the pitch, with his image filling the screen in the stadium in southern Italy.
Maradona is afforded almost God-like status in Naples, where he helped lead the club to the most successful stint in their history, winning their first ever Serie A title in 1986-87, as well as the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italia and UEFA Cup trophies.
The diminutive former star, who won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina, also represented Boca Juniors and Barcelona in a glittering career.
After his death, Napoli promptly named their ground after him, retired his No 10 shirt and unveiled a statue – which the newer statue, first unveiled back in November 2021 and displayed again on Saturday, will join.
However, Maradona’s family announced legal action against his former manager Stefano Ceci in 2021, saying he wrongly gave the club permission to use Diego’s imagery on their kit.
Maradona’s son Diego Junior said at the time: ‘The shirt in honor of my father is a source of pride, but I regret Napoli’s lack of consideration. We, the rightful heirs, were never involved in this and we did not give the go-ahead for this operation.
‘Stefano Ceci, who was my father’s agent, gave permission. But this is a different situation and should directly involve family members. A contract that no longer exists was considered valid and therefore we will take legal action. It’s strange that a serious club like Napoli should have given this person credit.’
Spalletti has led his side to a new club record 12 consecutive wins, surpassing the 1986 team of Maradona, a run which sees them perched at the top of the Serie A standings, five points clear of Atalanta in second place.