Rome, July 5 (IANS) Argentine legend Diego Armando Maradona has said that he did not request payment in return for agreeing to become an honorary citizen of Naples, the scene of his greatest success in club football.
“I swear on my mother, who is watching me from heaven, that nobody has mentioned money to me. Nobody. When the citizenship was proposed to me, I accepted immediately,” he told reporters on Tuesday shortly after arriving in the southern Italian city.
“Why is it always necessary to ask for money? It’s not that way for me,” the 56-year-old Maradona said on the eve of the ceremony in Naples’ Plebiscito Square.
Waxing philosophical, he lamented the enormous influence of money in contemporary society before heatedly denouncing those who have accused him of seeking to profit from the initiative to honour him.
“I’d like to find the person who said I came here to earn$260,953 and I’d spit in his face,” he said.
Maradona said that he has had a special relationship with the city since arriving in 1984 to join the Napoli club.
“I’ve been a citizen since the first moment I pulled on the No. 10 jersey,” the Argentine said.
It was 30 years ago that the man known in his prime as “El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Boy) led Napoli to its first-ever Italian league title.
Napoli went on to win another league crown, a Coppa d’Italia, a UEFA Cup and an Italian Supercup during Maradona’s seven-year tenure with the club.
Maradona said during the news conference that he would be available to meet Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis about possible future collaboration with his old club.
Napoli retired the legendary No. 10 jersey long ago in Maradona’s honour, but the former Argentina captain said Tuesday that he was open to the idea of the coveted jersey number being revived for the team’s current star, Naples native Lorenzo Insigne.
“If he scores more goals than me, then he can wear it,” Maradona said.