To understand Edinson Cavani and his dream of becoming Napoli’s all-time top scorer we need to look back into the mists of Partenopean history, into the 1930s – an era before television. A period where players wore uniformly short hair, did not filter everything through a perspective of self-interest and where the most famous, a millionaire who never took any wages, was nicknamed the Greyhound.
Naturally in any historyof Napoli, one player always rises above the rest and as the club’s overall top-scorer, Diego Maradona is particularly relevant to Cavani’s vision. “I am slowly closing the gap on Maradona’s goal-scoring record and I can reach his tally,” said the Uruguayan. “I always think big and I know Diego is incomparable, the same as Careca, but slowly I will catch them all,” he proposed proudly after his poker in the 4-2 Europa League win over Dnipro last week. It was a performance which rated a mind-blowing ten out of ten in the Gazzetta.
With those goals the Uruguayan’s total reached 80 and as we look into Vesuviani history we find that he overtook the greatGiuseppe Savoldi, who was sixth in the club’s all-time top scorers’ table on 77 (55 in 118 Serie A games).
The Matador’s next target as he guides his Cuadrilla towards glory is the legend Antonio Careca, whose total was 96 (73 in 164 Serie A games). After him in fourth spot is yet another renowned Brazilian striker, Jose Altafini, who struck 97 goals (71 in 180 Serie A games) between 1965 and 1972.
Both totals are commendable, but where it becomes a trifle harder is reaching a century of goals. Yet the next two Napoli legends on the list, Antonio Vojak and Attila Sallustro, who played alongside each other, certainly did that. The former scored 102 Serie A goals from 1929-35 over 190 games and was Napoli’s Capocannoniere with 22 goals in 1932. It was a record held for 78 years, until Cavani ended the 2010-11 Serie A season with 26.
The perfect Paraguayan, Sallustro, was the first real superstar of football and never took a lira off the club despite scoring 80 goals in 205 Serie A games. His overall total of 108 in 260 league games is higher than Vojak’s, but this also included three seasons in one half of Serie A’s forerunner, La Liga Sud.
The all-time top-scorer of course is Maradona, who is second with 81 goals in 188 league games, but in all competition his total is 115, which took him seven seasons. So Edinson is definitely within sight of Diego’s record. When he does get there, his name will be written large in the annals of the Partenopei and he will certainly deserve it.In the crucible of the contemporary game with its enticements, encumbrances and unending examinations, it’s not often a player shrugs off speculation of mega-buck transfers while vowing to become the club’s all-time top marksman.
Of course Cavani is not yet of Diego’s status, but 57 Serie A goals inside two and a half seasons cannot be dismissed easily. The last two campaigns have seen him narrowly miss out on being Capocannoniere with 26 and 23 goals respectively. Yet ironically Diego won with only 15 in 87/88.
However, it’s impossible to compare Cavani and Maradona as they’re completely different players and both from unique generations. It’s true both have created the same effect on the team, by winning and doing it in style. Although he inspires his teammates, Cavani is not a natural leader like Diego. But scoring is his job and he has undoubtedly been one of the major forces behind Napoli’s rise over the last 30 months.
If Cavani should continue in his current vein he may be overtaking those other top scoring South Americans, back in the mists of time and space, quicker than he dreamed of doing.