What was it like to be a Napoli supporter as the club cantered towards that incredible league win? Champions Journalist fan reporter Alessio Costabile does his best to put it all into words
Since Napoli won the Serie A title, the fans have had to bid “Ciao Mister” to heroic manager Luciano Spalletti, who is taking a well-earned sabbatical. The extent of his effect on the club was illustrated by a group of ultras returning the 64-year-old’s steering wheel as a parting gift; they’d stolen it the previous season in an effort to force him out when results weren’t going so well. Of course, the passion of Napoli’s supporters is well documented. Here Alessio describes the euphoria he felt when the Azzurri sealed the title thanks to a 1-1 draw at Udinese in early May.
“I’ve always been convinced that the adjective which defines the spirit of Naples and our fans is ‘ravenous’. Before the title was confirmed, the entire region prepared with the hunger of someone ending a long fast and nibbling at the various courses before they are even ready. Decorations sprouted like mushrooms from Naples to Sorrento, all the way to the islands of Ischia and Capri.
“I watched the Udinese game in a pub in Rome, where I live and work at the moment. As soon as the final whistle blew, I jumped in my friend Tulio’s car and we drove the two-and-a-half hours to Naples; all the way there we blasted out stadium hymns. We arrived at 1am, which is pretty quick if you ask me.
“The city had exploded with tears and fireworks. I saw people crying and hugging in the street, on the roofs of parading cars, jumping around with mothers and fathers. I saw old, patchy and faded flags, often projecting the distinct features of Diego Maradona and images of the first two titles. They’d finally been taken out of retirement, allowed to once again feel the wind’s caress.
“Many, like me, did not go to sleep that night, preferring to stay out and celebrate. I have never before cried so many tears, discharged so much energy on the streets; I have never before given more voice to the clouds. Never as I did that night. Because Napoli won and, from now on, nothing will ever be the same.”