Luciano Spalletti dedicated Napoli’s title win to the people of Naples: ‘this victory is for them’. A 33-year wait came to an end after the Partenopei held Udinese to a 1-1 draw, crowning them Serie A champions with five games to spare in what has been a remarkable season. Speaking in a lengthy and emotional post-game press conference, Spalletti looked back at the successes of the season, and dedicated the win to the fans who were ‘an army of hearts’, pushing the team onwards to the title:
“I enjoyed it, I saw the faces of those who were there today and who celebrated, there was talk of it being a feat, and a feat it is. Some people already know this, those who work seriously though don’t have time to be happy, those who work from morning to night arrive, get a result and immediately close the curtains on it, hunting for another scene that will give them happiness.
“We have been a bit like this and we are happy, you are projected toward something else that is even more important, to give this happiness that Neapolitans have been waiting for a long time. Behind this feat there is also the blessing of Maradona, given what we brought home with as many as five games still to go, there were very strong teams with us. The players deserve this joy and happiness to share with their families, they have been incredible professionals.
“The dedication goes to all of Naples, this victory is for them, to all my staff, those who work behind the scenes, always on the ball, both when we were winning and losing. All the people behind the scenes were our second team. People then like Santoro, Giuntoli, the club, which is a serious, well run club that has put so many things right by creating a team that can have an important future. Also to my family, thank you, but at the end of the day. It’s two years that I’ve been away from home and they’ve been waiting every two months for my return … however, the work is rewarding, you benefit from so many things so a little effort is fair.”
Was there a moment when it was said that you would win the Scudetto?
“Already last year there were a few moments where we did well and I thought so, you told me it was too much, that we didn’t have the depth to pull them by the hair, This year you tell me that I didn’t believe in the result and instead De Laurentiis did, with that attitude I worked … now he wants to tell me that he wants to win the Champions, he always says the maximum, if we win it like this…. he always he always lands on his feet!
“This was my second half, it started to create a mentality to make the Scudetto a reality, have them tell you in the meeting what I was saying and they tell you. Being third didn’t matter, second was not an improvement….second is not a step forward. So we had to try to win the championship and I always told them, from the first moment when no one believed in it……After they’ve seen Sarri, Benitez, Ancelotti, Having seen Gattuso win, who played good football, what do I do, copy paste? I, at the end of the day, at 64 years old got there, then maybe I can’t rejoice all the way, but now seeing the faces of the players in Naples maybe it will touch me too.”
One image that remains with you from this season?
“Of images, I have so many, so many results made to build this mentality and this belief that we could dare for the great result, it is my point of view and I am the worst of all. Are there the best? I am the worst. If I think of something I think of the Champions League displeasure and I’m done badly, this stuff here we worked on and built it properly and probably different things got in the way there maybe, but the thought goes there because I’m used to working. I have to do something even in my free time…..”
Meeting for the future? You are the sixth largest payroll in the league:
“Tonight I wanted to be good, the work that the club has done there makes jurisprudence, it shows everyone how you have to work seriously, correctly, this club, if it has succeeded, should be congratulated. It has built a good team, which has all the criteria and the physiognomy of a team that can win again and you can still improve. For the time of comparisons, I don’t care, it is the context where you are born that makes the difference.”
17 years ago you turned down the role of technical director, then embarked on a great path with today’s Scudetto:
“I don’t know what you allude to with the technical director. However, of Scudettos I won three, in Russia I won two. I took a team at a particular time and led it to salvation, as I also did well in Serie B. I am pleased to have woven relationships with so many good people. Here in Udine was the beginning and I was lucky, I had a great president, fantastic players, it resembles the history of Napoli today at that time. We changed so many players that time, Gino Pozzo was very good at signing players from around the world. Great championships were made at that time there. Then there I decided a little bit more, but it was time for a change and I don’t know if it was correct at that time. However, the fans kind of made it happen, even today you heard the choruses, but that’s okay, I have many friends here in Friuli still, When I find all those children with whom my sons played football, I am very close to those families, Udine is a city fit for living life.”
Also today the crowd frame was important, any comment? Last mile, how hard was it?
“The fans for us are fundamental, they are the ones who make the players feel stronger. In Naples we saw the strongest of all, Maradona, we have to go and take something in remembering what you do…. it is difficult to get to his level, to his football, but we cannot be below the beauty he expressed in the sport. Napoli players have to be able to fight to be stronger because there is this army of hearts behind pushing us, they have the right to have players who fight for these goals here, otherwise you cannot wear this jersey. The last kilometer is the toughest, the hardest, when it gets closer it gets even heavier, the character of the people, the beauty of the good guys that make up our team goes to be pulled in here as well. I said it the other day, these guys leave pieces of their hearts everywhere, they have proven it in these two years, they wanted to give this happiness and it’s right that they take it… NAPOLI IS FOR YOU! FORZA NAPOLI! NAPOLI!”
The president says you will be remaining:
“The president will have to come and tell me not you (laughs ed.).”