Maradona inspiring Argentina compatriot Simeone as Napoli chase Scudetto glory

By Sports Desk February 16, 2023

Diego Maradona's Argentinian connection to Napoli continues to inspire Giovanni Simeone as the Partenopei edge closer to the Scudetto.

Napoli have not won the Serie A title since the late Maradona guided the Naples side to the championship in 1990.

Simeone – son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, who is a former team-mate of Maradona – has played a supporting role to star striker Victor Osimhen, though that does not diminish his squad status.

The 27-year-old forward scored a late winner against Milan in September and repeated the dose in a crucial 2-1 victory over Roma on January 29, with those representing two of his three Serie A goals this term.

With a 15-point lead at the summit and a first Scudetto in 23 years in sight, Simeone lauded the connection he has with Napoli fans due to their love for Albiceleste icon Maradona.

"Being an Argentinian here is amazing," he told Sky Sports. "Napoli is different. This club represents the history of Italy, the history of Diego Maradona.

"It is a pleasure for me to play here because every fan sees me as Argentinian and because of Maradona they want to speak to me. It is 'Maradona, Maradona, Maradona'.

"It is not just the club, it is the whole city. Everybody is a fan here. Everybody speaks about football, everybody breathes football.

"Neapolitans are similar to Argentinians. We speak similarly.  We have the same gestures. It feels like home. I am the same as them because football is a passion for me. I am in the right place."

Simeone, who has the Champions League emblem tattooed on his skin, scored three minutes into his competition debut against Liverpool this season.

That marked the first of eight strikes in all competitions this season, scoring a goal every 66.8 minutes – by comparison, Erling Haaland has hit the net once every 72.3, while Kylian Mbappe has done so every 84.9.

Napoli team-mate Osimhen is further down that list with his 18 goals in 22 games coming at a rate of 93.7 minutes-per-goal, yet Simeone treasures every opportunity he gets as a substitute.

"It is not easy to know that you do not start. When the coach tells me that I will be on the bench, it is difficult for me but I always prepare as if I am starting," he added.

"I need to be ready for everything. Life is like this, you must be ready for the moments that you do have. I am ready for every minute I am given.

"The quality of the time is more important than the quantity."

While Simeone insists Napoli will not get ahead of themselves, relying on a mantra from his father, the striker believes Luciano Spalletti's side have no limit to their ambitions this campaign.

"The group is the most important thing. Every player will be needed. If the starting forward does not score, the next one can," he continued.

"To get the trophy, we need to be there in every match. My dad says something that I have always tried to remember – partido a partido – match-to-match.

"We need to be prepared for every match, ready for everything, because every three points counts. I feel the same with the Champions League.

"I feel we can play against any club, ready to play against anyone. Then, it is difficult to say if you will win or not. But we are ready. The Champions League is really important to me. I want to be there in June."

Asked if Napoli can achieve something special, Simeone will believe it when he sees it, adding: "I do not know because I have not won anything. When it is the time, maybe I can tell you."

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