Napoli stars and fans pay emotional tribute to Diego Maradona in Rijeka clash

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Napoli paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona ahead of their Europa League clash with Rijeka at the San Paolo Stadium this evening.

The footballing world remains in mourning after Maradona, widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, passed away at the age of 60 on Wednesday having suffered a cardiac arrest.

In his iconic 22-year career, the legendary No.10 inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986 and also clinched league titles with Boca Juniors and Barcelona.

However, he spent the greatest period of his footballing days at Napoli, playing a key part in the Italian club’s first ever Serie A title win in 1987 as well as Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup successes.

His death has therefore sent shockwaves rippling through Naples, with thousands of fans gathering outside their San Paolo Stadium ahead of their match against Croatian outfit Rijeka tonight.

The Gli Azzurri faithful lit up the streets with red flares outside Maradona’s old stomping ground, while also leaving flowers, shirts, scarves and pictures on the fences around it.

Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne paid his respects before tonight’s match, stopping by outside the stadium with old club warehouse worker Tommaso Starace to leave flowers in homage to Maradona.

And in a special tribute during tonight’s game, all of Gennaro Gattuso’s players wore shirts with Maradona’s name on the back instead of their own.

Both teams held a minute’s silence before kick-off, with Napoli posting an emotional statement online insisting the city will love Maradona “forever”.

It read: “Diego, Unique and Immense Love. If the world is mourning the greatest player of all time, Naples celebrates a son, a friend, a father and a brother tonight.

“Diego, Unique and Immense Love. The Champion, the Star Player, the Idol, The King, the unrepeatable Genius of the Blue Universe who gave us an Eternal Dream. Thank you for the emotions, for the happiness, for the splendour, for your huge heart that will never stop beating.

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“You have risen once again from the Earth to enter the Legend. You beat death to consign yourself to the Myth. And now, Diego, take us back with you to Heaven.

“This is your city, this is your home, this is your people, this is your people. Diego, Unique and Immense Love . Naples will love you forever!”

  • Napoli FC
  • Diego Maradona

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