Soccer: Mobbed Maradona hints at Napoli future
Argentine great says still better than Messi26 February, 16:36
The Argentine is revered in the southern Italian city after leading the local side to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup during his memorable stint with them between 1984 and 1991.
Maradona was at his prime during his time with Napoli and in this period he also inspired Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous 'Hand of God' goal and the most highly voted 'best goal ever' against England along the way.
"They have told me that Roma and Inter are after (Napoli's current coach Walter) Mazzarri," Maradona told a press conference regarding his 40-million-euro dispute with the Italian tax authorities.
"We former Napoli players would (all) like to be on the Napoli bench, but we have to respect Mazzarri.
"When Mazzarri goes, I...," said the former Argentina boss, finishing the sentence by lifting his hand up. He also said that those who argue that Barcelona forward and fellow Argentine Lionel Messi has deposed him as soccer's all-time top player were wrong.
"Messi is a great player and I don't like the comparisons with him. I like the ones with (Brazil great) Pele.
"Anyway I'm the best. Messi needs to become a member of an Argentina team that wins the World Cup (to surpass me) and that won't be easy". He encouraged the current Napoli side that they still were in with a chance of winning this year's Serie A title, despite being held 0-0 at Udinese Monday, leaving them six points behind leaders Juventus in second place. "Napoli must not give up, I say to the players that they should not be afraid to win," said Maradona.
"I don't think the championship can be considered over with 12 games to play.
"Napoli have to keep chasing Juve, who are more practical, but not better.
"Let's not forget that Juventus have to come to Naples (on Friday) and we know that they are not the same away from home as they are in Naples". Maradona has been greeted by crowds of cheering fans everywhere he has gone since arriving in Naples on Tuesday and he admitted that hearing the Napoli fans chant for him had brought him to tears.
He also talked about the dispute over alleged unpaid taxes on off-the-books earnings in sponsorship and merchandising deals during his stint at Napoli.
Last month the ex-player's lawyer said a tax commission had cancelled the debt, but the inland revenue agency subsequently said this was not true, saying the ruling only applied to the old Napoli soccer club, which went bankrupt in 2004.
Maradona says he is being persecuted by the authorities - he had a diamond-studded earring and a Rolex watch seized, among other assets, on past visits to Italy.
"I didn't kill anyone," Maradona said. "I come here to ask for justice.
"They say that often justice does not exist. I want to believe that justice does exists for me. I am a victim".