Thursday February 20 2014
Higuain on following Maradona

Gonzalo Higuain has reflected that he can ‘only hope to achieve a small fraction’ of what Diego Maradona did with Napoli.

The No 9 is the latest Argentine to represent the Vesuviani on from the impact Maradona had at the club in the 1980s.

Talking to FourFourTwo ahead of tonight’s Europa League clash with Swansea, the 26-year-old was asked if he sees himself as perhaps the former No 10’s heir in Naples.

“That's not for me to say! Maradona is a legend, the greatest player the world has ever seen,” Higuain responded.

“He is still remembered at Napoli, and I can only hope to achieve a small fraction of what he did. If I do, it will have been an accomplishment.”

The striker was asked what he meant by recent comments that he ‘owes Maradona a lot’.

“When he was Argentina’s manager at the last World Cup, he called me up and gave me a starting role.

“He always gave me great advice and made me a better player. He has meant a lot to Napoli, but he has also done a lot for me and my career.”

Higuain considered life so far in Serie A with the Partenopei.

“It has been incredible. I am in great physical shape and the team is doing very well. We're working hard and the fans have been great to me.

“I came to Napoli because the team is in position to win a title. They brought in Rafa Benitez and he wanted me to be part of his plans for the season. I came to this team to win, and I think we are in great position to do so.

“The fans are dreaming of a title, and while that's a lot of pressure, it is also something that energises me as a player.

“I spoke at length with Ezequiel Lavezzi, and he told me what to expect. I had also watched Napoli from when I was a child and Maradona played there.

“I always watched Napoli games, even after Maradona left, and I never thought I would some day play for them.

 “Replacing Cavani? He is an extraordinary player. He did some great things at Napoli, and scored a lot of goals. He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players Napoli has ever had.”

Napoli have fallen off the pace in Serie A in recent weeks and find themselves 13 points adrift of leaders Juventus. However, Higuain doesn’t rule the club out of becoming title challengers.

“Absolutely, we can. Yes, we did lose those games [against Roma and Juventus] but the season is long and there are a lot of games to be played.

“The 3-0 loss against Juventus was harsh. We played well and their first goal was offside. I was tripped in the penalty box and didn't get the call. Had those things happened, the outcome would have been very different.

“Do we struggle in big games? No, I don’t think so. We have won some big games this season, it’s just a matter of focusing.

“Whether it’s in Serie A or anywhere else, I think we have the players to win the important games. We are no different than Roma, Juventus or any other team trying to win a championship.

“It’s a strong group. They have been slowly building over the past few years and it's showed. They won a Coppa Italia and are regularly in the Champions League.

“If you look at the results from the past few seasons, I think they speak for themselves. We are not a team of great individual players but a collective. We are a united group, and that's important.”

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