Dries Mertens concedes it was ‘tough to pull that shirt on’ when Napoli paid tribute to Diego Armando Maradona tonight.
As his funeral was taking place in Buenos Aires, the squad walked out for the Europa League game against Rijeka all wearing the Maradona 10 jersey.
Outside, thousands of fans had gathered to lay flowers and sing El Pibe de Oro’s name at the gates of what will now be called the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
“It was an awful moment for me, so I can only imagine how those who lived through his time at Napoli must have felt,” Mertens told Sky Sport Italia.
“He made such a big impact on this city and for everyone in the south of Italy. I want to be positive, and focus on my memories of a smiling man who loved football.”
In his Instagram post, where he did often exchange messages with Maradona, Mertens ‘apologised’ for scoring more goals in the Napoli shirt than Diego.
“I apologised to him, because my name was used in the same sentence as his and that’s not right. He was and always will be unique.”
All the players walked out for tonight’s game with the Maradona 10 jersey on their backs.
“It was tough to pull that shirt on. In some ways, it was always a dream, but not like this.”