Naples pays emotional tributes to Maradona

By Gonzalo Sánchez

Naples, Italy, Nov 26 (efe-epa).- The stay-at-home measures in place to stem the spread of Covid-19 were largely ignored in Naples on Thursday by crowds that gathered in the street to pay tribute to Diego Maradona, who has an almost godlike status for many in the Italian city.

Dozens of fans congregated in front of the giant murals of the late soccer star, who died from a heart attack aged 60 on Wednesday, in the Spanish quarter in the city center.

The vigils took place despite a partial-lockdown order in the Campania region in a bid to bring down high Covid-19 infection rates. Under the rules, Neapolitans are only allowed to leave their houses for essential reasons. But what is more essential than honoring the Argentine who brought so many evenings of glory to the city?

“Yes, we’re a red zone, but today we’re coming out,” Emanuele Santanicola, a taxi driver, says.

In Naples, a huge city nestled between a volcano and the sea, Maradona is venerated like a deity, one of its many saints, perhaps its most sinful.

Diego solidified his legendary status in Naples by guiding the local team, Napoli, to two Serie A titles, first in 1987 and then again in 1990. His heroic status on the pitch will never be forgotten.

But on Thursday, one day after his death, the palpable emotions in the city, particularly in the labyrinthine streets of the Spanish Quarter, where the walls are adorned with his murals, are of incredulity and grief.

In front of one of the murals, depicting Maradona in full stride, is Raffaelle Pozza, 25, crying into the shoulder of his girlfriend.

“We have come to pay tribute to someone who was fundamentally our God, for me, he always was and always will be the best,” he tells Efe.

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