Friday January 12 2018
Hamsik already a Napoli legend

Marek Hamsik hasn't just broken Napoli records, writes Emmet Gates, but over a decade embedded himself in the fabric of the club and the city.

As Dries Mertens rolled the ball across the turf at the Stadio San Paolo in the 38th minute against Sampdoria, Marek Hamsik knew this was it: the chance to make history.

It was an opportunity that had looked inevitable, to break a record that loomed over and consumed him for months and weeks, to overtake Diego Maradona as the club’s record goal-scorer.

Of course he didn’t miss, delicately lifting the ball over the on-rushing Emiliano Viviano into the roof of the net to give Napoli the lead, and indeed the victory.

Maradona, Hamsik revealed, sent a message of congratulations, from one Napoli captain to another. While it’s never nice to see your record broken at a club you have done so much for, there’s no doubt Diego was genuinely happy that it was Hamsik who did it. For no other player has given as much to the Neapolitan cause since Maradona.

Whilst Hamsik hasn’t driven Napoli to anywhere near the same success levels as Maradona in the late 1980s, he’s risen to almost rival the deity-like figure in the popularity stakes in Naples. Hamsik doesn’t have a bar decorated in his honour or any wall-size murals (at least not yet), but walk around the city and you’ll see an abundance of Hamsik merchandise.

It all seemed so unlikely a decade ago, when the then mohawk-less 20-year-old signed from Brescia. Napoli had just gained promotion to Serie A for the first time in six years and Hamsik was thought of as someone to keep an eye on for the future. A decade and some 481 games later, Marekiaro has embedded himself into the very fabric of the club, and indeed the city.

Hamsik grew to prominence as one third of the ‘three tenors’, with Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani. Hamsik wasn’t the flashiest of the trio, nor made the headlines as often, but was a driving force in that Walter Mazzarri side. Hamsik then watched on as the three tenors disbanded, first with Lavezzi going in the summer of 2012, and Cavani following a year later.

Both Lavezzi and Cavani won the adulation of the Napoletani. For Pocho, it was due to a combination of tireless work ethic and mazy dribbles, in Cavani’s case it was down to the absurd number of goals he scored inside threee seasons. However, by the end, neither could stomach the suffocating atmosphere that comes with living in the fishbowl environment of Naples, and departed for the bright lights and nouveau riches of Paris.

By the time Cavani had left, Hamsik had already rebuffed advances from Juventus, Milan and a host of others. Despite he and his wife being robbed at gunpoint during his 10 years in Naples, there’s always been a feeling that Hamsik would stay put, that his loyalty was never in question, and so it’s proved. He’s been the greatest signing of the Aurelio De Laurentiis era.

Hamsik, barring any serious injury, will in all likelihood shatter Giuseppe Bruscolotti’s 30-year record for Napoli appearances by the end of the calendar year. Currently sitting in third, he’s a mere 30 games shy of the former defender, who played 511 times during the 1970s and ‘80s.

With Napoli going into the winter break as champions, Hamsik realises that it may be now or never to win the league. He’s also astute enough to recognise that he’s now on the wrong side of 30, and hasn’t got many more years left of rampaging into the opposition box to score goals.

If Napoli could finally bring home the Scudetto for the first time in nearly three decades, Hamsik may surpass even Diego as Napoli’s greatest player.

Fabio Capello once famously remarked, “one title in Rome is worth 10 in Turin or Milan”. One could feasibly argue that a single title in Naples is equal to 20 in either of the two Northern cities.

And if it does indeed happen, and Hamsik raises the trophy high into the Neapolitan sky come May, he might just get his own mural alongside Maradona in the Spanish quarter of the city. His legend secured. 

Have your say...
The great tribes of the Wild West judged their worth by the numbers of enemies they had.
To win you quite simply have to be the "big ocean" in your League, ruling over all the "small ponds" around you, leaving their fans to rant and rave about absurd fantasies and non existent claims of wrong doing.
In the meantime you keep on winning!
And winning, and winning, and winning..............
on the 15th January, 2018 at 5:47pm
@Anon Sure I have something to say: Juve need to cheat to win, they can't win anything without cheating or bribing someone.

on the 15th January, 2018 at 3:55am
Let's get back with the subject of the discussion: HAMSIK.
A good player with consistent positive input or a "fuoriclasse"?
There is not a chance of comparing Hamsik with the "estroso" Diego Maradona, so he is a good, above average, player, who might be rated as being a big fish in a small pond, but nothing to do with all the "fuoriclasse" who have graced the football elite over the years.
on the 14th January, 2018 at 3:18pm
@ Pina okkkkk since your comments are always the same nonsense, is there anything else you can talk about. My guess will have to be no.
on the 14th January, 2018 at 1:53pm
@Anon Remember the time that the only way Juve was capable of winning anything was by bribing people? Yeah, me too, it happens every year! Ahahaha

Keep those bribes coming, it's the only way Juve ever wins!
on the 14th January, 2018 at 2:14am
@Pina Remember that time the team you support won nothing? That happens every year haha. Again take min to read about match fixing in italy amd who started it pls. Dont get too sick when you find out the truth. Instead of being a stupid little child about it all the time . Boring
on the 14th January, 2018 at 12:47am
The Quartieri Spagnoli in Napoli is a dump and crime ridden. His mural would look good there.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 11:28pm
@Anon Remember that time Juve bribed their way to the scudetto? Me too, it happened 35 times ahahahaha.

35 won with a checkbook, 0 won on the field.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 8:46pm
@ Spanish section of naples?
You must be very young and know very little about Hamsik, or Napoli for that matter, make a search on the net about his performances since he joined in 2007,and you wouldn't talk gibberish, as you have.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 7:30pm
Hamsik's plays direct Football, he is at his best as a free electron doing what he wants, when he wants. But Sarri forbids him from doing so, he obliges him to combine mainly with his Majesty Lorenzo, and cover up for him, because he hasn't got what it takes, this results in having an unbalanced team, playing only on the jammed left flank, and giving away 2 players to the opponents. Napoli pays dearly for Sarri's fundamentalism, his should get some pragmatism lessons from Spalletti, or Maurinho.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 7:12pm
Legends win...............
Win, win, win!
Hamsik is only, quite simply, one of the best players in the history of a Club with very few wins in their CV.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 3:34pm
@ Pina . Shut up nobody cares . Move on with your lame team pls
on the 13th January, 2018 at 2:30pm
@Anon Not everyone can bribe their way to scudetto after scudetto like Juve ;)
on the 13th January, 2018 at 1:44pm
@maradonnaisoncrack hahhaahaa lost me there as well hahaha napoli will bring home the serie a title with star plaers like mertems and hamsich and koulibally hahahahaahaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
on the 13th January, 2018 at 7:18am
They'll have good and bad seasons. Dzeko will go from 8 goals in one season to 29 the next. What changed? Confidence? Luck? Hamsik (like Totti) has never been a prolific scorer in any one season (his record is 12) but cumulatively he's 3 off his Serie A century. Quite an achievement for a midfielder. I hope the likes of Donnarumma, Calabria Locatelli and Cutrone learn from Maldini, Totti and indeed Hamsik. Very few moves work out successfully. Particularly once you've lost your home support,
on the 13th January, 2018 at 3:36am
Messi is not the same player for Argentina as he is for Barca. For Barca he's probably the greatest player of all time. For Argentina he's a very good player. That's a huge difference. One club players also benefit from cumulative stats. Totti only managed 20+ Serie A goals in 2/25 seasons. That's actually pretty poor if you think about it. Balotelli would've got shot if he only managed 5-8 goals like Totti did in some seasons. But over a long period of time a player's class shines through.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 3:31am
The transfer market has undermined so many players' careers. It's very difficult in life and in football to find the perfect conditions for success. Tiny details can make all of the difference. We've all had teachers, bosses or coaches who got the best or the worst out of us. Once a player finds the right conditions for success it's very difficult to replicate it elsewhere. That goes for Messi at Barca and Cerci at Torino. What would Cerci's career have been had he remained at that club?
on the 13th January, 2018 at 3:26am
I was with you until, "If Napoli could finally bring home the Scudetto for the first time in nearly three decades, Hamsik may surpass even Diego as Napoli’s greatest player."
on the 12th January, 2018 at 9:35pm
Average player, playing for an average team.
on the 12th January, 2018 at 6:38pm
It is sad that a player staying at a club for over or almost a decade is seen as remarkable these days. Putting that aside i rate hamsik for staying and being so consistent in his performances it is a mark of a quality player that they are always able to challenge themselves every season and improve upon their performances. You have to rate a player who can survive sarri mazzari reja benitez and donadoni yet still retain a place in the 1st team.
on the 12th January, 2018 at 3:41pm
Comparisons are futile, in most cases needless and in some cases childish. There is no point to comparing Hamsik with Maradona. What Marek has given to Napoli has been nothing short of outstanding. A player of his quality could've easily decided to move on. But not only has he stayed loyal, he has also produced it year in year out. Clearly, he is now in decline but if Napoli are to win the scudetto, they'll need Hamsik.
on the 12th January, 2018 at 11:48am

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