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Sunday May 15 2016
Higuain joins Napoli legends

With a hat-trick that could've been written into a Hollywood movie, Gonzalo Higuain joins the pantheon of Napoli icons, writes Richard Hall.

Whilst the city of Naples continued her long wait for another Serie A title this season, the fans were at least allowed to dream again as Gonzalo Higuain wrote his name into the history books.

Pipita spearheaded the attack of a squad that pushed Juventus all the way, even if they fell at the last hurdle. Serie A’s Capocannoniere has amassed a record-shattering 36 goals in 35 games and in turn made the San Paolo a much more dangerous ground to go to than it already was.

Gunnar Nordahl’s record of 35 goals in a single Serie A season, set with Milan in 1949-50, has finally come crashing down after 66 years. With Hollywood movie timing, he chose the final match of the season to score his first hat-trick of the campaign and set the new record with a spectacular overhead kick. As the Sky Sport Italia commentators screamed: “No way! This is like a film script! It can’t be real!”

What he has done for the Partenopei this season is more than simply score goals; he has given the side back its soul.

To say Naples is a hot bed of Italian football is an understatement. Italy’s fourth-biggest supported club is passionate, flamboyant and above all they are fighters. This is perhaps why they have always flocked to see foreign stars who have been creative and devastating on the pitch. From Attila Sallustro, Luis Vicino, Omar Sivori, Jose Altafini, Careca and Edinson Cavani to the ‘King of Naples’, Diego Maradona, they loved an icon.

This season, watching an Argentine forward catapult them towards what looked for a while like being their first title since the great man left has unleashed a fireball of nostalgia, belief and support that resonates loudly from the archaic stadium. He has truly earned his place in the pantheon of Napoli icons.

Higuain may have scored 36 goals and got four assists in the league, but it is the consistency that will please him the most. After missing guilt-edge chances and arguably costing his country the World Cup Final and the Copa America, it seemed like he was developing a reputation as a ‘choker’. 

Personally he will be overjoyed with his deadly aim this year, as he has put these rumours to bed. Out of his 36 Serie A goals, 31 of them have come from inside the box, most of them centrally and 23 of them with his right foot. The supporting cast in Naples have had one job, get the ball in the box to Higuain and he will score.

One of the most iconic scenes this season has been the barrel-chested striker wheeling away in celebration as the bright red flares and smoke bombs light up the San Paolo. As ‘Decibel Bellini’ the announcer bellows ‘GON-ZA-LO’ the stadium replies, ‘HIG-UI-AN’.

The strike rate is incredible, the title chase was exciting, but it is the belief and memories that are important in Naples.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports and get your first month free. £5.99 thereafter until September with promo code: ITALIA https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/

Have your say...
Some Juve "fan" can't accept his team are not as good as he thinks they are.

He's just upset at the slapping his team got in Germany. Maybe the players had too much for breakfast that morning?
on the 20th May, 2016 at 3:12am
Ah yes, deflect the conversation to something else. It's all our enemies have left after being slapped silly.
on the 19th May, 2016 at 9:02pm
Pity the Juve players don't loke German food :)
on the 19th May, 2016 at 8:13pm
Napoli had a poor start too but it didn't last as long Juve's. And 3 games without a win just past the mid-season is not really a slump. Napoli were very consistent after week 8. They could not have done any better. That is their limit. It's just that our players decided to be cannibals after week 10 and eat everyone for breakfast the rest of the season.
on the 19th May, 2016 at 7:09pm
@Jake
Actually Juve were licky their slump was at the start. Napolis stump was mid season, and Juve took advantage of that. If Napolis only slump was at the start, they couldve won the title too
on the 19th May, 2016 at 3:35pm
Jake,

I'm sure the referee's will note your request, and you will be granted those 100 pts.

Juve love the ref's company.
on the 19th May, 2016 at 3:05pm
@ Jake. You really need to work on your comprehension. Please read my post again and then comment on its contents. If you feel you need to.
on the 19th May, 2016 at 6:43am
Oh so now it's the National Team that is evil, not Juventus? You are one deluded miserable victim. See you next season. And no, we won't give you a 10 game head start. If you couldn't take advantage of it then there is no point to try it again. My wish is for another 100 points season. What's your wish victim?
on the 18th May, 2016 at 3:11pm
@ MadeinSUD - very eloquent. My club in England have only won 1 trophy in the 35 years I have supported them but I know that was all they deserved. That's the difference, fans do not mind if they know all clubs are treated fairly. Alas, this is why Italy is so far behind, I am surprised any top players come/stay because they will not be taken seriously at an international level - just look at how many top sides at Euro 16 have players based in Italy, or the Brazil or Argentina squads.
on the 18th May, 2016 at 6:56am
@ Jake, can you not come up with something original instead of the misery line all the time? Its the Italian football mentality that is miserable, useless on the big stages, as will be seen by the national side at the Euros. The ironic thing is that of all national sides Italy have suffered the most at the hands of the refs (WC 2002) yet they will not recognise the problem at home.
on the 18th May, 2016 at 6:46am
Just as expected, misery loves company. Oh hai guyz, there is always next year. Thanks for participating.
on the 17th May, 2016 at 4:16pm
Jake.... what kind of gratification can you possibly have if juve are owned by fiat, a northern team, get refs in the back pocket when dictating the result, win scudettos but fail in europe? Keep winning the scudetto...what fun is it? whats the point of watching a predictable league at that point? Id rather lose with dignity, with calls and odds against us....than everything that stands for Juve from Agnelli to Rizzoli.
on the 17th May, 2016 at 4:12pm
What an achievement. 30 goals in a season is usually unheard of in Serie A but 36... Wow! Hope he stays at Napoli as they could be dark horses in the UCL next year, if they can just increase their depth a little which I'm sure they will. Serie A is slowly but surely rising again.
on the 17th May, 2016 at 2:32pm
Jake, I'll bet you post your little confrontational comments and check the page every 5 mins to see if you get a reply! LOL!

Well, congrats amigo. Also, congrats on Juve on winning the title. Best team always wins the league.
on the 17th May, 2016 at 1:51pm
Ah, little Jake back again one more time to stir the pot! LOL

Jake, you must be a really miserable sod wherever you hail from.

Like you often say, misery loves company. LOL!
on the 17th May, 2016 at 1:48pm
@ Jake Rather a crass statement trying to belittle Napoli and Higuain and his recording breaking season - this record stood for 66 years! Nothing provincial about Napoli - they had a great season, played the most attractive football and had they not lost to Juventus in February probably would've lifted their 3rd scudetto. The system in Italy makes in difficult for teams outside of Juve, Inter etc to win the scudetto - I know I used to live there!
on the 17th May, 2016 at 1:12pm
Yes Jake, Barca, Bayarn and Leicester all lifted important trophies at the weekend. So did Celtic and Juventus, but like the Liberation front of Judea from Monty Python, only themselves were watching. I cant wait until the CL final - that is the big one for real winning clubs.
on the 17th May, 2016 at 6:04am
You can see the difference in mentality between winners and provinciali. I provinciali all get together and celebrate the top goalscorer, nevermind that his team won jack. Misery loves company. Meanwhile winners are busy lifting trophies and thinking ahead about the next season. See you next season moral winners ;)
on the 16th May, 2016 at 6:57pm
I don't think many outside Italy appreciate how incredible this record is. Scoring 30 goals a season in Italy is hard enough, let alone setting a new record of 36. Last year the top scorers scored 22.
on the 16th May, 2016 at 3:58pm
Blue Mastiff,

So you only want Napoli to play with 10 players?
on the 16th May, 2016 at 1:53pm
Grande Gonzalo!!! I was in disbelief while watching the match. After his first I said ok, he could maybe get 2 more if Frosinone stop playing. Then after the 2nd I had a feeling he would do it, but in the fashion he did has left me awestruck. I will watch highlights of this season, his goals, and his record breaking goals for years to come. Forza Gonzalo, Forza Napoli!!!
on the 16th May, 2016 at 1:21pm
And this guy still can't get a spot in Argentina starting XI
Higuain has earned a incredible 28 points off his own boot. Subtract that from their total points for the season and that would put Napoli on 54 points and in 9th place if you took his goals away this season, wedged between Lazio and Chievo. Napoli 82 points is 33 XCpoints more than what Chelsea have achieved and would have been enough to take out the EPL this season round.
on the 16th May, 2016 at 12:21pm
amazing player, if he could controll his temper the new record would be even higher now. i'm looking forward to see how he does in EPL next season, he should be able to score 50 there :)
on the 16th May, 2016 at 11:52am
Congrats Higuain. How many more only for that stupid ban? Speaking of bans, a Gnoukari kid at Inter has been banned for 2 years for assaulting a referee, but when I watched the incident, there was very little of an assault. A 3/4 game ban would have been sufficient. He obviously should have stuck his head in the referee. Apparently this is allowed without sanction in Italian football.Then again as the incident happened in Italy the 2 years is probably a result of his race or his club.
on the 16th May, 2016 at 6:21am
Azzkikr,

He scored 36 goals in the toughest defensive league in Europe. He scored more than Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar and Benzema. Can you imagine how many chances this guys get in a full season.

To mention Icardi in the same sentence is nuts. If Icardi is only operating at 1/3 of the level of Higuan, then he needs to be a busier boy for his team.
on the 16th May, 2016 at 3:08am
Obviously a great accomplishment, but he did benefit greatly from Napoli creating so many chances.

In comparison, Higuain had over 3 times more attempts on goal than Icardi had, who was the most clinical striker og the season.
on the 15th May, 2016 at 10:12pm
Congrats from a Milan fan, he'll of a first season in Italy. Hats off to you
on the 15th May, 2016 at 8:35pm
gon-za-lo
HIGUIAN
that was such a mesmerizing game
this has been an incredible season for Napoli, getting Sarri was such a masterstroke.
on the 15th May, 2016 at 6:08pm
Amazing feat, Truly!

congrats to him. Although I feel bad for the club that'll go all out to get him. For higuain to repeat what he did this season, the whole attack has to be working around him, the way Sarri did it.
on the 15th May, 2016 at 5:52am
Fantastico!!!

Sarri is the real genius in all this, though. Give him anything he wants ADL!
on the 15th May, 2016 at 2:50am

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