On Sunday, Napoli fans witnessed their cherished heroes finally raise the Serie A trophy, while coach Luciano Spalletti bid farewell to Naples after fulfilling the long-standing dream of generations of supporters.
The 2-0 victory against relegated Sampdoria served as an appetizer, with the true highlight being the trophy lift that had attracted throngs of fans to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. It marked the team’s first triumph in 33 years.
Midway through the second half, Victor Osimhen opened the scoring from the penalty spot, securing his position as Serie A’s all-time leading African scorer with an impressive 26 league goals this season.
In the 85th minute, Giovanni Simeone sealed the win with a spectacular long-range strike, ensuring Napoli finished the season with 90 points. He celebrated by holding up a Napoli shirt worn by the iconic compatriot and legend, Maradona.
Reflecting on the remarkable season, Osimhen expressed his gratitude: “This season has been incredible for me, my teammates, and Napoli. We truly deserved this.” When asked about the possibility of a lucrative summer move, he deferred to the president’s decision, emphasizing his affection for the passionate Napoli supporters.
Although still under contract with Napoli, Spalletti will be on gardening leave for a year and plans to return to his Tuscan vineyard. At 64 years old, he becomes the oldest coach ever to win the Scudetto.
Napoli’s championship triumph served as the pinnacle of Spalletti’s illustrious coaching career, which garnered widespread acclaim despite a limited trophy collection. Regarding his departure, Spalletti stated, “Leaving was a decision I made, and I need to stay true to myself. Even when I’m at home, it’ll feel like I’m in the stands, watching and cheering for them.”
Fans hope that Spalletti’s successor can effectively utilize the immensely talented squad assembled by outgoing sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli. Some players, like Osimhen, may attract interest from wealthier clubs in Northern Europe.
In an emotional farewell, Fabio Quagliarella, Sampdoria’s captain, received recognition from Napoli supporters in his final match in Italy’s top flight. Initially considered an adversary when he left for bitter rivals Juventus in 2010, it was only years later that the truth about a peculiar stalking plot forcing his departure came to light. As Quagliarella was substituted, Napoli fans bestowed upon him a plaque and a banner with the words “you will never be forgotten by your people,” leading to tears of gratitude.
Looking ahead, Quagliarella may continue his playing career as Sampdoria, under new ownership and no longer threatened by bankruptcy, aim to return to the top flight.
Meanwhile, AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic will bid farewell to the club’s supporters after their final game against Verona, who are fighting to avoid relegation. Ibrahimovic played a crucial role in Milan’s resurgence, rejoining the club in late 2019 as a free agent. Despite an injury-plagued season and limited appearances, he helped guide Milan to a Scudetto victory last season.
Verona finds themselves just above the relegation zone, tied on 31 points with Spezia, who face Roma. If both teams end the season with the same points, they will contest a playoff to determine which team will be relegated to Serie B.