Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella revealed his five-year police stalker nightmare and why he “left unfinished business at Napoli.”
The former Italy international was blasted by locals for walking away from Napoli towards Juventus, then Torino fans hounded him out after he refused to celebrate once scoring past the Partenopei.
Over the last five years, he kept secret the shocking situation he and his family had to live through, but stalker Raffaele Piccolo has now been jailed for four years and eight months.
“I was treated like the villain of the situation in front of my home fans and that hurt,” Quagliarella told Le Iene.
“Every time I came back to Naples, I had to disguise myself in order to avoid getting insulted or accused. Clearly not everyone in Naples is like that, and I wish everybody had the same heart as the Neapolitans do, but getting insulted is hard to pass over after the third time it happens…
“Sometimes those close to me reacted, but I always tried to avoid arguing with my own people. I was waiting for the day when I could finally tell them everything.
“A stalker tormented me for over five years. I don’t know what was going through his mind, as he was a police officer and because of that I at first considered him someone to be trusted.
“I explained a password problem I had and he resolved it. Then I started getting anonymous letters with pictures of naked girls, accusing me of paedophilia, of working with the Camorra (organised crime), of dealing drugs, of fixing games.
“My father received threatening messages. They told him that someone would shoot me in the head or that they’d blow up my home with a bomb.
“One time they even delivered a coffin with my picture in it. The stalker had almost become one of the family, as he kept assuring he’d find the person responsible.
“Any tiny gesture became a danger, once you knew about these threats. You felt constantly observed, threatened, always looking to see who was eyeing you sideways. You cannot imagine the tension in my home.
“The stalker, being a police officer, was regularly in my home and he was running the whole thing. He asked us to take some people’s fingerprints, kept saying: ‘We’re nearly there, just a little longer…’
“He even named some names, but when you’re inside all of this, it’s impossible to understand what’s going on. I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my brothers.
“This man even accused my best friend, Giulio, who was then called in by the authorities for invented links to the Camorra.
“In the end, my father figured it out. He realised the authorities never got my formal complaints because the stalker was keeping them all to himself.”
The extent to which this situation affected his career cannot be underestimated.
“Those letters I received at home, he would also send to my club. Before the away trip to Sweden, they called me and said I would not play because I was sold to Juventus. It was the first I’d heard of it.
“People accused me of leaving Napoli for money, but that was not true and really annoyed my family. The fans cared for me and felt betrayed, but they couldn’t know the real reason I left. They saw me becoming their captain, of winning something with the team. If it was up to me, I’d still be there at the San Paolo, as scoring those 11 goals were worth 100 to me.
“I tried to let them know how much I loved Napoli with little gestures, like refusing to celebrate after the goal for Torino. Would I go back to Napoli? It’d be wonderful even to just know they had thought of me. I left unfinished business there.”