Napoli fans watched their heroes finally lift the Serie A trophy on Sunday as coach Luciano Spalletti walked away from Naples after fulfilling the dream of generations of fans.
A 2-0 win over relegated Sampdoria was little more than a hors-d’oeuvre before the real reason fans jammed into the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona -- to see their team lift the trophy for the first time in 33 long years.
Victor Osimhen opened the scoring from the penalty spot midway through the second half, the 26th league strike of a stunning season which made him Serie A’s all-time top African scorer.
Giovanni Simeone then made sure the hosts would finish the season on 90 points in the 85th minute with a stunning long-range strike before celebrating by holding up a Napoli shirt worn by icon and compatriot Maradona.
“This season has been brilliant for me, for my teammates, and for Napoli. We deserved this,” Osimhen told DAZN before discussing whether he might leave in a big-money summer move.
“I don’t know, the president has to decide that. I love the people of Napoli, they have shown me so much love. For me, I don’t mind, the president decides and I will just go with the flow.”
Spalletti will be on gardening leave for a year while still under contract with Napoli, and he will return to his Tuscan vineyard the oldest ever coach to win the Scudetto at 64.
Napoli’s title triumph was the crowning glory of Spalletti’s long and eventful coaching career which has brought plenty of plaudits but few trophies.
“I need to be true to myself, leaving was a decision I made, that I came to. Even when I’m at home it’ll be like I was in the stands watching and cheering for them.” said Spalletti.
Fans will be hoping that whoever takes Spalletti’s place will be able to utilise the hugely talented squad assembled by outgoing sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli, as some like Osimhen are targets for richer clubs north of the Alps.
“I would tell them to trust these boys because they have a human and playing quality that means you can allow them to keep the ball rolling,” said Spalletti.