Reina backs Higuain to have Maradona-effect on Napoli
The chants of “Higuain” have been echoing like thunder throughout Naples for the past couple of weeks. Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina claims the Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain is starting to make an impact on the people of Naples, the same as the club legend Diego Maradona used to have.
Maradona has been the life of Naples for many years. In 2004 when the Argentine striker was sick, shrines were constructed across the city to pray for his good health. Higuain, who left Real Madrid for Napoli this summer, is believed to become a Napoli’s latest cult-hero.
Reina, who is on loan from Liverpool and is expected to join Napoli soon, is astounded by the power Maradona holds in Naples. Reina claims the legendary No. 10 has become a God for the people of Naples. Maradona, who spent seven years under Napoli colors from 1984 to 1991, is still a respected icon in Naples.
“You can breathe football here, it's almost like a religion,” Reina told Marca. “The god is obviously Maradona and will be for many years. In any restaurant in Naples you can see souvenirs of him, from shirts to photos. I hope the same can happen with Higuain. He's the idol of the moment.”
Maradona won two Serie A titles during his spell with Napoli. With Higuain in the attack Reina believes Napoli can keep such dreams alive. Reina also admits that defending champions Juventus and Roma will prove to be tough competitors for the Scudetto.
“The idea this year is to win the Scudetto,” Reina said. “Juventus are the reigning champions of Italy and are used to playing in the Champions League, while Roma are doing very well and don't have any other cups.
“I don't know what might happen in the city if we win the title. The people are very similar to those in the south of Spain. There's certainly no lack of enthusiasm and passion. Playing in the San Paolo is extraordinary.”