Maradona revisited: on his medication ban, Berlusconi and ‘the suffocating love of Naples’ | Diego Maradona

In March 1991, after a recreation Napoli had performed in opposition to Bari, Diego Maradona failed a drug check. The Italian soccer authorities banned him for 15 months. He fled to Buenos Aires, the place the Argentinian regulation authorities subjected him to continuous harassment and surveillance, together with a brief spell in jail. Maradona referred to as these 15 months “among the many most horrible of my entire life”.

In July 1992, with the ban over, Maradona was decided to “detach [himself] from Napoli”. He joined Sevilla, managed by Carlos Bilardo, who was answerable for Argentina for the 1986 and 1990 World Cups.

Simply after his arrival in Sevilla, he spoke with Bruno Bernardi, a legendary journalist for the Turin day by day La Stampa whom Maradona admired deeply.

Carlos Bilardo coached Maradona at Sevilla after he joined in 1992. {Photograph}: El Grafico/Getty Photographs

Bernardi: Would you have got returned to Naples?

Maradona: After I was determined – in opposition to Claudia’s [Claudia Villafañe, his wife]Crossed [Marcos Franchi, his manager] and the physician’s recommendation – I wished to play once more, even in Naples. I made the final try with the 21 situations that involved the person greater than the cash. I did not even owe Ferlaino [Corrado Ferlaino, the owner of Napoli] a greenback as a result of with the brand new contract I had already performed three seasons. Somewhat, it was Napoli that owed me $7m, a determine that additionally contains the advance for 1992–93. Somewhat goodwill would have been sufficient. When Careca, Crippa and De Napoli [teammates at Napoli] phoned me, they touched the depths of my coronary heart. In Napoli I’ve many mates, inside and outdoors of soccer. And it is solely Ferlaino’s fault if I am at Sevilla.

Bernardi: Ferlaino wished for you a future as an government.

Maradona: If I ever turn out to be one, I can’t collaborate with Ferlaino. He and I are too totally different.

Bernardi: Naples has given you a lot however what did it take away from you?

Maradona: Naples cherished me in a suffocating approach, with out ever a second of peace to let me breathe. I hoped, they usually promised me, that after two or three years it will change, however as an alternative the stress elevated. I do not blame the Neapolitans. I seized on the promise Ferlaino made me that if we received the Uefa Cup he would launch me a season early. He took it again. And that was once I freaked out.

Bernardi: Juventus would have accomplished something for you that season. Gianni Agnelli [Juventus’s owner] let or not it’s understood, and [the Juventus executive] Giampiero Boniperti stated you’re the solely nice champion who hasn’t worn the black and white jersey. You have been nearly on the verge of coming to Turin: what would have modified in Maradona’s historical past if you happen to had signed that contract?

Diego Maradona with Juventus player Antonio Cabrini
Maradona was near finishing his ‘nice dream’ of becoming a member of Juventus throughout his profession. {Photograph}: Juventus FC/Archive/Getty Photographs

Maradona: Juve was my nice dream and I’d have been the participant who retains speaking and screaming on the pitch, dragging his teammates, the kind of participant lacking for the reason that days of Roberto Bettega and Marco Tardelli, when Juve received the whole lot. In Turin I’d have collected titles, I’d nonetheless be in a metropolis the place you may stroll quietly down By way of Roma with out being harassed, like once I was in Italy these first few months, but in Naples I could not go away the resort. Roberto Baggio is a champion, maybe the one one together with Claudio Caniggia, who can turn out to be my inheritor, however he should endure as he’s at present doing for a few extra years to realize expertise and maturity. Juve is a rare membership and you need to take your hat off to the Advocate [Agnelli]. He’s too sturdy, miles away from [Milan’s owner Silvio] Berlusconi.

Bernardi: Now it’s Milan that dominates and permits itself the luxurious of sending Ruud Gullit to the stands.

Maradona: Absurd. I’ve plenty of anger in the direction of Berlusconi: he’s an egoist who has six foreigners not a lot for strengthening Milan, however to weaken the competitors. He’s killing soccer. I perceive the ability of what has damage me a lot however Gullit does not deserve the same therapy. And along with Ruud, the general public is penalized by being disadvantaged of seeing an ace just like the Dutchman who brings them a lot pleasure. If he’s not wanted, they need to give him to Sevilla.

Bernardi: In Milan, Lentini’s market value [For a brief period, Gianluigi Lentini was the world’s most expensive player, moving from Torino to AC Milan for 18.5bn Italian lira] dwarfs the one paid by Napoli to signal you from Barcelona eight years in the past. Is that proper?

Maradona: It’s a consequence of the calls for that [Lentini’s club] Torino made. Lentini already appeared to belong to Juve and Berlusconi took him away with a contract that would not be turned down. I collect Lentini earns much more than I do. He’s actually an excellent ahead however he is not a phenomenon.

Bernardi: So is Milan unassailable?

Maradona: They will win the Defend once more. Juve stay Milan’s nemesis, nevertheless, they usually can’t afford to consider the long run by buying younger gamers; it should take into consideration profitable instantly and strengthening themselves with gamers stuffed with character. To be clear, the membership wants a Carlo Ancelotti kind who dominates the pitch and places psychological stress on his teammates and on his opponents. The opposite groups usually are not able to compete with Milan. Not Inter, which lacks a Lothar Matthäus from their finest days to hope to win the Uefa Cup. Not Napoli: Ferlaino now not desires to make it a profitable workforce. Neither Sampdoria that misplaced Gianluca Vialli. Not the Roma of my good friend Caniggia. Not Toro that has an excellent squad, however does not want the scudetto.

Bernardi: Do you miss our Serie A?

Maradona: Very a lot. However now I am in Spain. I’m excited about Sevilla’s recreation tomorrow in opposition to Matthäus’s Bayern: you will note an excellent Maradona. I’ve additionally invited King Juan Carlos. And I am excited about my debut in La Liga on 7 October.

Diego Maradona - The Last Interview book cover
Diego Maradona – The Final Interview e book cowl

Bernardi: Are you not aiming for USA 94?

Maradona: It is early, and I’ve so many doubts. First, I’ve to regain my place within the nationwide workforce for the World Cup which might be my final and which may very well be distorted by variations in local weather and time zones. At Italia 90 we went to the ultimate as a result of [Italy coach Azeglio] Vicini did not play Pietro Vierchowod: if he had performed in defence, we might by no means have drawn [and reached the final on penalties]. And I pray to God that Sacchi’s Azzurri don’t attain the heights of Milan, in any other case they are going to turn out to be the strongest and there shall be nothing for anybody.

That is an edited extract from an interview which was first printed in La Stampa in September 1992. It seems in Diego Maradona: The Final Interview & Different Conversations, out there now from Melville Home. Translation by Allegra Donn

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