The legend returns
Napoli legend Diego Maradona has returned to the city ahead of his former club’s top-of-the-table clash against Juventus tonight, at San Paolo Stadium.
Maradona is in Italy in a bid to clear his name and fight the country’s authorities, who claim the legendary number 10 owes up to €40 million in unpaid taxes, accumulated during his playing career there between 1984 and 1991.
The Argentine great, who inspired the club to embark on their most successful period in their history, leading them to two Scudetti, a Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup, was originally slapped with the huge tax bill back in 2005.
However, the ever-defiant Diego is claiming his innocence in the whole affair, and attempted to explain his side of the story. Just last year, he stated:
I am not a tax fraudster and I am not afraid of returning to Italy. The people who are really responsible are free and can walk around freely in Naples and I can’t. That’s not fair.
I want to return to Italy as a gentleman because I never stole anything from anyone.
Upon landing in Italy on Monday, Diego was mobbed by thousands of fans, mostly chanting for their hero. He was then met by a lawyer, before holding a press conference where he expanded on his previous comments:
I want to thank the people of Naples for treating me like they have – it has made me smile. But I have to say – I have come to seek justice. I want to come back to Italy, I want to watch Napoli with my grandson.
I have not killed anyone. I had faith in the people that signed my contracts, but I was not in the room. I was out training so I do not understand why the Italian justice system is asking for €40m.
On his previous visit to the Peninsula, Maradona had a diamond earring and two expensive watches taken from him by the Italian authorities, as well as having a chat show appearance fee confiscated.
Azzurri fans will be hoping his presence in the city inspires them, and current playmaker Marek Hamsik, to victory tonight as the team attempts to claw back Juventus’ 6 point lead at the top of Serie A.
As a little reminder of just how good he was, here’s how Diego used to inspire all around, pre kick-off…