Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Napoli Greatest All-Time Team

Serie A title 1987 

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Southern Italy
AC MilanJuventusInter Milan,
Napoli Argentine Best XI

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Formed in 1926, Napoli won Serie A twice, and been runners-up six times, the Coppa Italia five times, the Supercoppa Italiana twice, and the 1988-89 UEFA Cup.  They are the first Southern Italian club to win scudetto.  Diego Maradona is their greatest players.  He put Napoli on the football map in Italy, where clubs from the North dominated.  During Maradona's time at the club, it enjoyed its most successful.
UEFA Cup 1989

GK: Ottavio Bugatti (Italy)
Bugatti played club football for Napoli and Inter; while at Napoli he played himself into the appearance records books at the club, today he is seventh in the clubs all-time appearance records for the league. With Inter he managed to win the Italian Championship twice.  
At international level, Bugatti represented Italy seven times, and represented the nation at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

GK: Giuseppe Cavanna (Italy)
Born in Vercelli, Cavanna played in the 1920s and 1930s for Pro Vercelli and S.S.C. Napoli. He played 151 matches in Serie A. In the 1934–35 season he had the lowest goals conceded per game average (0.722) for Napoli, a record which stood until Dino Zoff broke it during the 1970–71 season.  Cavanna was the reserve goalkeeper for the Italian national team that won the 1934 FIFA World Cup on home soil.

GK: Dino Zoff (Italy)
Dino Zoff captained the World Cup winning side in 1982 at the age of 40.  He held the Serie A appearance record until 2006. He was also a part of the team that won the European Championship in 1968. He achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italias, and an UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions' Cup finals in 1972-73 and 1982-83 seasons. He also played for Udinese, Mantova and Napoli.

RB: Giuseppe Bruscolotti (Italy)
Giuseppe Bruscolotti started with Sorrento playing between Serie B and C. He moved to Napoli in 1972.  He is the club's appearance record holder.  Throughout his career, he was referred to as "Pal e fierr" ("iron pole") by the fans, due to his physical strength.  He led the club to victory at the 1976 Anglo-Italian League Cup.  He was the captain of Napoli before Diego Maradona took over. He played with the club until 1988.  

Giuseppe Bruscolotti 
RB/RW: Christian Maggio (Italy)
Maggio started his career with Vicenza. Then, he played for Fiorentina and Sampdoria before joining Napoli in 2008. He spent 10 seasons with the club winning two Coppa Italia.  He was voted into Serie A Team of the Year three times while with Napoli. He left for Benevento in 2018.  For Italy, he had 34 caps from 2008 to 2004.  He played in the 2010 World Cup Finals and Euro 2012.

SW: Moreno Ferrario (Italy)
Ferrari played for many clubs, but best remembered for his career with Napoli between 1977 and 1988.  With Napoli, he played with Diego Maradona.  He was a part of the team that won the Serie A/ Coppa Italia Double in the 1986/1987 season.  He is the 3rd appearance record holder for the club.  He never played for the senior side for Italy, but appeared 8 times for the under-21 team.

SW: Alessandro Renica (Italy)
Throughout his career, Renica played for L.R. Vicenza (1979–1982), Sampdoria (1982–1985), and Napoli (1985–1991), where he made a name for himself as key player in the club's starting line-up, winning several titles, before ending his career with Verona (1991–1993). Born in France, Renica was a part of Diego Maradona's Napoli.  He won two scudettos, two Coppa Italia's and the UEFA Cup.  He also played for Sampdoria and Verona.

SW: Ciro Ferrara (Italy)
 Ciro Ferrara  was considered one of the best defenders in the world during his prime.  His Italy's career was limited by playing in the same period with  Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Pietro Vierchowod, Riccardo Ferri, Giuseppe Bergomi, Gianluca Pessotto, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, and Alessandro Nesta.  For club football, he played nearly a decade for Napoli during Diego Maradona's years before moving to Juvnetus.  At Juventus, he won 6 scudettis and a single Champions' League. 
Ciro Ferrara
LB/SW:  Ruud Krol  (Netherlands)
Krol was one of the most important defender in Dutch history.  Capped 83 times. He helped Oranje to reach the WC Final in both 1974 and 1978.  He was a leftback at the World Cup in 1974 and switched to sweeper later in his career.  He won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's. He also played in Italy with Napoli, in France with Cannes and the NASL with Vancouver Whitecaps.

LB: Jeno Vinyei (Hungary/Czechoslovakia)
Jen Vinyei was Hungarian by birth, but he played twice for Czechoslovakia in 1948 under name Eugen Prosovsky.  For his club football, he played for Diósgyőri VTK and Sokol Kosice in Czechoslovakia. In 1949, he joined Pro Patria in Italy. He moved to Naples in 1951. After 4 championships in Campania, he joined SPAL.

LB: Giovanni Francini (Italy)
Francini started with Torino. He managed to reach three consecutive Coppa Italia finals between 1980–1982, also managing a second-place finish in Serie A in 1985.  With Napoli from 1987 to 1994, he won the Serie A, the Supercoppa Italiana, and the UEFA Cup.  He was capped 8 times due to the presence of Antonio Cabrini and later Pablo Maldini during his prime.

DM: Salvatore Bagni  (Italy)
Salvatore Bagni played for Perugia and Inter Milan before joining Napoli in 1984.  He was a part of the team that won the Serie A/Coppa Italia Double in the 1986-1987.  He played in the midfield with Diego Maradona.  For the Italian national team, he was capped 41 times between 1981 and 1987.  He narrowly missed the team that went to both 1978 and 1982 World Cup Finals.  He went to Mexico 1986.

CM: Antonio Juliano (Italy)
Born in Naples, Antonio Juliano played with Napoli between 1962 and 1978.  He won the Italian Cup in 1975-1976 season. He finished his playing career after a season with Bologna, retiring in 1979, after helping the club to avoid relegation.  He was capped 18 times for Italy. He went to three World Cup Final in 1966, 1970 and 1974 respectively, but only played one World Cup match, which was the 1970 Final against Brazil. 
Antonio Juliano 
CM: Alemao (Brazil)
Alemao was capped 39 times for Brazil. He went to two World Cupo Finals: 1986 and 1990.  He also won the Copa America in 1989.  For his club career, he played with Diego Maradona at Napoli where they broke up the dominance of Northern Italian clubs.  He won the 1989 UEFA Cup, scoring a goal in the Final. He also played for Botafogo in Brazil, Atletico Madrid in Spain and other clubs.

CM: Fernando De Napoli (Italy)
Fernando De Napoli was a part of the successful Napoli side that also featured Diego Maradona.  He served as Maradona's defensive foil in the midfield.  He won the scudetto in 1987 and 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989, and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1990. For his country, De Napoli took part in the 1986 World Cup Finals, Euro 88 and the 1990 World Cup Finals.

LW: Bruno Pesaola (Argentina/Italy)
Born in Argentina, Bruno Pesaola began his career in the academy of River Plate playing with Alfredo Di Stefano. In Argentina, he played for Sportivo Dock Sud.  He went to play for AS Roma in 1947.  He joined Napoli in 1952 and spent 8 seasons there, forming a partnership with Amedeo Amadei and Hasse Jeppson. He was capped once by Italy in 1957.

AM: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Diego Maradona was considered the second best player in history after Pele.  He won the World Cup in 1986, scoring the best goal in the history of the World Cup when he scored against England.  He also played in the WC Finals in 1982, 1990 and 1994.  For club football, he was best remembered for leading Napoli to break the dominance of the Northern Italian clubs in the Serie A.  Napoli won two league titles and a UEFA Cup.  He was also considered to be Boca Juniors' greatest player.
Diego Maradona
AM: Marek Hamšík (Slovakia)
Marek Hamšík made a name at the World Cup in 2010, where Slovakia qualified for their first ever Finals and beat Italy in the First Round.   He also helped Slovakia to qualify for their first ever European Championship in 2016. He played for Slovan Bratislava and Brescia before joining Napoli in 2007.  At Napoli, he established as one of the best midfielders in Serie A.

SS/FW:  Omar Sivori (Argentina/Italy)
Omar Sivori is remembered one of the greatest ever player from Argentina. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1961. After Argentina won the Copa America in 1957, he joined Juventus where he enjoyed 8 successful years.  He was credited with the resurgence of the club.  With John Charles and Giampiero Boniperti, he formed "the Magical Trio" with the club.  In Argentina, he played for River Plate.  After Juventus, he joined Napoli. He also represented Italy 9 times in the early 1960's.
Omar Sivori

ST: Attila Sallustro (Paraguay/Italy)
Born in Paraguay to Italian parents, Attila Sallustro  went to Italy when he was young with his family.  He played for Napoli from 1926 and 1937.  His brother also played for the club at the same time.  At Napoli he was nicknamed "Il Veltro" and "Il Divino".  Along with Marcello Mihalich, he was the first player from Napoli called up by the national team.

ST: Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
Higuain first starred for River Plate in Argentina.  He joined Real Madrid in 2006.  He would stay with the club until 2013.  Higuain later played with Napoli and Juventus.  In the 2015–16 season, he scored 36 league goals, winning the Capocannoniere title and equalling Gino Rossetti's 87-year-old record for goals in an Italian top-flight season. For the national team, he earned 52 caps.  He was brought into the national team after Argentina struggled to qualify for South Africa 2010.
Gonzalo Higuain 
ST: Dries Mertens (Belgium)
Mertens started with Ghent in 2005.  Later, he played for AGOVV Apeldoorn and Utrecht in the Netherlands. From 2011 to 2013, he played for PSV.  In 2013, he joined Napoli, where he is their all-time leading scorer.  For Belgium, he had 90 caps since 2010.  He went to 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals, as well as the Euro 2016.    In 2018, Belgium came third at the World Cup Finals.

ST: Careca (Brazil)
Careca had 64 caps for Brazil.  He supposed to be the starting striker of the star-studded 1982 World Cup team, but he missed the Finals with an injury.  Instead, he starred at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.  He finsished second in scoring with 5 goals.  He also played in the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.  For his club career, he was remembered for playing with Napoli as a teammate of Diego Maradona. He also had a successful career with São Paulo.
ST: Antonio Vojak (Italy)
Born Pula in modern day Croatia and what was then Austria-Hungary.  Pula became a part of Italy in 1918 and remained during Vojak's playing career. He started with Lazio, but made a name with Juventus.  In 1929, he joined Napoli where he scored over 100 goals.  He was capped by Italy once in 1932, but using the name Vogliani due ant-slav laws at the time.  

ST: Jose Altafini/Mazzola (Brazil/Italy)
In Brazil, Jose Altafini was known as Mazzola because of his resemblance with Italian attacking midfielder Valentino Mazzola.  He started to use his real name Jose Altafini after he joined AC Milan in 1958.  He was the hero of AC Milan's 1962-1963 European Cup title. He is the current 4th top-scorer in Italy's Serie A history.  For the national team, he was the original starter on the 1958 World Cup team, but was replaced in the semifinal and the final.
Jose Altafini

Honorable Mention
Arnaldo Sentimenti (Italy), Luciano Castellini (Italy), Umberto Busani (Italy), Massimo Crippa (Italy), Michele Andreolo (Uruguay/Italy), Giuseppe Savoldi (Italy), Enrico Colombari (Italy), Amedeo Amadei (Italy), Bruno Giordano (Italy), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina), Hasse Jeppson (Sweden), Paolo Cannavaro (Italy), Dino Panzanato (Italy), Luciano Comaschi (Italy), Giancarlo Corradini (Italy), Giovanni Venditto (Italy), Stelio Nardin (Italy), Ottavio Bianchi (Italy), Cane (Brazil), Carlo Buscaglia (Italy), Roberto Filippi (Italy), Andrea Carnevale (Italy), Pierluigi Ronzon (Italy), Gianfranco Zola (Italy), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Luis Vinicio (Brazil).

Squad Explanation
-- I need to pick two keepers out of this group: Dino Zoff, Arnaldo Sentimenti, Morgan De Sanctis, Luciano Castellini and Giuseppe Cavanna.  Zoff and Cavanna were mentioned frequently by different lists created by Napoli footballers, coaches, officials, etc.  Luciano Castellini only made honorable mention even through he was Serie A Player of the Year in 1980.
-- Obviously, Diego Maradona is their greatest player.  I selected 7 players who had played with Maradona.  They are Careca, Alemao, Fernando De Napoli, Salvatore Bagni, Giovanni Francini, Ciro Ferrara, Moreno Ferrario and Alessandro Renicawiti. 
-- Maradona's Napoli won two Serie A titles: 1987 and 1990.  At the time of writing, they are their only league titles.  They also won their only trophy in Europe, namely the 1989 UEFA Cup.
 -- Michele Andreolo was better known for his career with Bologna.
-- Bruno Pesaola got onto the team because he was a left wing. I need someone from that position.
-- Both Fabio Cannavaro and Gianfranco Zola came from Southern Italy, but they only played a few seasons with Napoli.  They played for Napoli before they were famous.
-- Ruud Krol played three seasons with Napoli.  He lifted Napoli to a third in the league, which was then a very good position for Napoli.  He won the Guerin d'Oro award (Serie A Player of the Year) in 1981.  In 1984, he was released from the club because Napoli wanted to sign Diego Maradona and could not afford both players.
-- The 2010's generation was under represented here until I did a review on November, 2019. Since 2010, Napoli has won two Coppa Italian in 2012 and 2014.  For a club that only won a handful of trophies, that generation has done a lot for the club.  Marek Hamšík, Edinson Cavani, Gonzola Higuian and Chriostian Maggio made the all-time team.  I also seriously looked into Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, Morgan De Sanctis and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
 -- In November, 2019, I decided to select Christian Maggio over Giovanni Vincenzi who played in the 1930's. Maggio was voted into Serie A Team of the Year three straight times while with Napoli in one of the clubs most successful era.
-- Kalidou Koulibaly is probably going to be on this team. At the time of writing, he has played 6 seasons here.  He is Serie A Defender of the Year for the 2018-2019 season.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamšík formed an offensive tri that the Napoli fans called the trio "Three Tenors".
-- Marek Hamšík played 11 seasons with Napoli.  He won two Coppa Italia.  During his time with the club, he was their most important player.  I always thought that he was underrated.  If he had played for a bigger club, he would be a household name. I selected him over his teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi.  Lavezzi started his Napoli's career with a bang.  He was proclaimed as the new "Maradona".  However, on this all-time team, I already have the real Diego Maradona and Omar Sivori ahead him on his position.
-- In February 2019, I also dropped Luis Vinicio for Dries Mertens. Mertens is now Napoli's all-time leading scorer.  Luis Vinicio was an uncapped player due to the situation in the 1950's and 1960's.  He also edged out Edinson Cavani, who had a better international reputation, but Mertens spent a much longer career here.

-- Gonzalo Higuain broke the Serie A single season scoring record in 2015-2016.  He deserved a place on the team based upon that record.  He edged out his countryman Lavezzi. Dries Mertens probably needed to be on the team.  
-- Jose Altafini and Omar Sivori also did not play long for Napoli, but they formed a team that challenged AC Milan for the title during the 1967-1968 season, which was very rare in Italy for a club in the South.  I selected the two of them because they represented an era of Napoli's football.
-- Omar Sivori spent four seasons in Napoli, in which he had two good seasons.  He only played 7 games in his last season, in which Napoli finished second.  Sivori clashed with many people of the club before his departure.  He received a red card on his last ever match with the club, coincidently against his former team Juventus.  He left for Argentina after getting a lengthy suspension from that card. Nevertheless, he did enough.  He was a star of a team that challenged the Northern clubs for the title, which was very rare in Italy for a club in the South.  
UEFA 1989



  1. Zoff
    Ferrara Ferrario Krol
    Bagni Iuliano Roberto-Filippi
    Vojak Cavani Khvicha-Kvaratskhelia