Naples and Vesuvius from Alessio's terrace

The lockdown diaries: Alessio Costabile, Napoli

Alessio Costabile

Our Naples-based fan reporter Alessio Costabile has been listening to the Manu Chao song about Diego Maradona, La Vida Tombola, on loop; it’s so good that we are now too

To quote one of my favourite authors, the Salerno native and brother-in-Napoli-faith Amleto de Silva, “Passion is that thing you do when no one is looking at you.” Since I have never needed to avoid the gaze of other people as I have during this lockdown, only now can I confirm this concept – as it’s clear that football is the one habit I’m unable to shake, even during these strange days.

Thirty years ago, in a similar situation, I would have been forced to make a pilgrimage into my memory to be able to once again smell the dust on the steps of the San Paolo. Today, fortunately, we have the internet – and for a Napoli fan who reached his football maturity during the 2010s, that means a lot of videos. It means:

  • Edinson Cavani, with razor-edged cheekbones, fingers pointing to the sky during one of his ravenous nights
  • Marek Hamšík, his face deformed by exultation, his mohican crest piercing the humid air while his eyes burn red with sweat
  • Gonzalo Higuaín and Maurizio Sarri, whose memory still causes that heavy load of bitterness as a result of betrayed love: a move to Juventus is not something one can easily forget
  • Dries Mertens sending the ball to kiss the net, in which our dreams all hide, in our game against Barcelona this season that feels like it took place 1,000 years ago.
Edson Cavani (note the cheekbones) celebrates a goal

I have also been listening to the Manu Chao song La Vida Tombola, which begins with the line “Si yo fuera Maradona” (“If I was Maradona”) and talks about life being a lottery. And I have been reading Futbol by legendary South American writer and journalist Osvaldo Soriano, while sitting on my balcony with a view of Mount Vesuvius. As I do so my mind keeps going back to Gianni Mura, the dean of Italian sport reporters, who passed away just a few weeks ago. 

The Mount Vesuvius that I have been glancing up at from my book is the same one that seems to have defended the city during these uncertain days. The toll taken on Naples and southern Italy has not been as heavy as the one that our fellow citizens in the north have experienced.

Naples has responded to the emergency with charity food baskets that have been lowered from balconies (a Neopolitan custom). They all bear messages along the lines of, “Chi può metta, chi non può prend”: it essentially means, "Those who can, put something in; those who can't, help yourself."

There have also been pizzaiuoli (pizza chefs) putting out films to teach everyone how to knead and bake while staying at home; I’ve also enjoyed images of the Gulf of Naples becoming clearer as the pollution lifts. And this is a Naples that embraces from balconies, obeying (and singing) the words of our kid Andrea Sannino’s tune Abbracciame (Hug Me). Because, at the end of the day, tomorrow always comes.

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Our Champions Journalist winner:
Alessio Costabile
Alessio was raised in a family filled with Napoli supporters, which left him with little choice but to join in; he attended his first game at the Stadio San Paolo in 2002. His favourite player down the years has been former captain Marek Hamšík and he cites Napoli’s 4-3 win over Lazio in 2011 as his best moment as a fan.
About Champions Journalist: Champions Journalist is an annual competition that gives fans a chance to write about their club for Champions Journal.
Champions Journalist
With thanks to our Champions Journalist winner
Alessio Costabile
Champions Journalist is an annual competition that gives fans a chance to write about their club for Champions Journal.