Wednesday February 12 2014
De Laurentiis: 'Credit to Benitez'

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis praised Rafa Benitez and Diego Maradona after reaching the Coppa Italia Final.

Maradona was in the stands for tonight’s 3-0 victory over Roma, which won the semi-final 5-3 on aggregate.

“The squad is showing it is a real team, so we are not worried in that sense. We also had Maradona in the stands. He suddenly arrived at the San Paolo, sat next to me and the crowd showed him so much affection,” De Laurentiis told Rai Sport.

“I gifted him the Number 10 jersey, which we have reserved only for him in honour of his greatness that is unique in the world.”

De Laurentiis went into the locker room at half-time, just as he did at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg.

“I usually go into the locker room at half-time, as I am fascinated to hear Benitez’s instructions and want to understand how concentrated the lads are. People say players don’t really listen just before going out to play, but they do listen to Benitez. He’s a whirlwind and is also very precise. I’ll have to film him one day.”

It has been said Benitez is a specialist at winning Cup competitions more than League titles.

“I think he’s good with everything. He has been here for only a short time, changed the system and many players with another three coming in January. People said Jorginho had no experience and was very young, but he settled in well and scored a fantastic goal tonight.

“I must credit Benitez with knowing how to pick players on the market. I believe we need to be less hasty in Italy. There is this untrue belief that the player who costs more will give the best guarantees.”

Napoli had struggled at the start of 2014, but appear to have found their feet after beating Milan 3-1 in Serie A and now Roma 3-0 in the Coppa.

“When there is a long Christmas break and the South Americans fly halfway round the world at back, then there are injuries, transfer distractions, etc we won’t give our best.

“I never doubted Napoli will continue to fight to the end. The important thing is that we step on to the field every day to honour the jersey and our own professionalism.”

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