Napoli will honour Diego Maradona by wearing a new kit echoing the “very strong bond” between the Italian club and his native Argentina, when they face Roma on Sunday in their first Serie A match since his death.
The sporting world has been paying tribute to Maradona, who died at the age of 60 earlier this week, with Napoli already having confirmed their stadium will be renamed to include the Argentine’s full name.
The forward, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, joined Napoli from Barcelona and won their only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – along with the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.
“A year ago, together with Kappa, we thought of designing a special jersey that echoes Diego Maradona, his beloved Argentina and the close-knit bond with the people of Naples,” the club said in a joint statement with kit manufacturer Kappa.
“Our hope was that Diego would be able to see it, perhaps even wear it and share in our excitement about it.
“It was agreed that the new kit would be unveiled on matchday nine of the Serie A campaign, during the match between SSC Napoli and Roma.
“The Kombat jersey that the players will don tonight will have an even greater significance than initially intended.”
The club have yet to release images of the kit, but their statement – and the blue and white stripes on the background of their social media post – suggest the strip will resemble that of the Argentina national team.
Clubs in Serie A – where Maradona led Napoli to their only league titles, in 1987 and 1990 – are also holding a minute’s silence before this weekend’s fixtures, and players will again wear black armbands.
Maradona’s image is being displayed in the stadiums before kick-off, as will the message ‘Ciao Diego’. Maradona will again be shown on stadium screens in the 10th minute of matches, marking the No 10 shirt he famously wore.
In addition, the Napoli legend’s famous pre-match warm-up routine which he performed before the club’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich will also be shown in all Serie A stadiums this weekend.
Maradona performed a remarkable keepie-uppie display to the rhythm of the song Live is Life by Opus which was being played in the ground at the time. The routine has earned cult status among football supporters.
Football world pays tribute to Maradona
Pele paid tribute to his fellow all-time great Maradona, saying: “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky”.
Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer Lionel Messi wrote on Instagram: “A very sad day for all Argentines and football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal. I take all the good moments lived with him and send condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”
Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted in Portuguese alongside a picture of him and Maradona: “Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius.”
Gary Lineker, who was in the England side beaten by Maradona’s Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, led the tributes on Twitter, writing: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.
“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego.”
Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford also posted a message on Twitter, while Jamie Carragher wrote: “I’ll never forget watching Diego Maradona as an 8 yr old at the World Cup in Mexico. Never seen anything like it on that stage since. Sad news.”
“One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.”
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