Napoli has a long history as an Italian football club. Naples Foot-Ball & Cricket Club is founded in 1904. Internazionale Napoli saw the light of day in 1912. And in 1922, the two clubs merged into FBC Internaples. In 1926 the name AC Napoli was adopted.
Internaples participated in the southern Italian championships but did not become a high flyer there. Only once did the team reach the final, but they are beaten 6-1 by Alba Roma (one of the fusion clubs of the current AS Roma). Internaples wanted a new name for the team in 1926 and found it in Associazione Calcio Napoli.
A new gaming system was introduced in 1926 before Serie A was founded in 29. The new system consists of a competition of two groups of ten clubs. Napoli comes last with one tie in the entire competition. The following season it goes a lot better and is placed eighth out of sixteen. This was borderline just enough to be admitted to the new competition; the Serie A.
Napoli built a great team in the early days of Serie A. They become fifth in the first season and finish in the top 10 in the six seasons. Paraguayan Attila Sallustio played for Napoli at that time, and Antonio Vojak came from Juventus. He scored 102 goals in 190 games.
Fluctuations in the competition
At the end of the 1930s, things were less going for Napoli. In 1937 and 1940, Napoli is on the brink of collapse, and they are almost relegated to Serie B. In 1940, the goal difference was eventually what allows football club Napoli to remain in Serie A. Two years later, Napoli is relegated to Serie B. Additional bad luck is that the Second World War has brought Italian football to a halt.
After the Second World War, Serie A has divided so that the best teams can again play in the Serie A honestly. Napoli ends together with AS Bari at the top of southern Italy. As a result, Napoli can immediately participate in Serie A. In the post-war debut season in Serie A, Napoli finished seventh.
After that, gli azzurri was classified in Serie B and then became the champion of Serie B again two years later. For five seasons, Napoli ends again in the national top 6. In 1958, fourth place was achieved. Things are not much different for Napoli in the 60s; relegation follows promotion.
Nevertheless, Napoli managed to set a remarkable record. When they were in Serie B, they won the Coppa Italia against SPAL in 1962. It was the first time that a second divisionist won the Coppa. It was also Napoli’s first silverware.
Societá Sportiva Calcio Napoli
In 1964 the club name was changed to SSC Napoli. Napoli is promoted immediately, and they are third in Serie A. In 1968, the club was second behind AC Milan. Napoli is going to invest, and Altafini, Juliano and Dino Zoff are recruited. Partly for this reason, they become third in 1971 and 1974.
In 1975 Napoli finished in second place, only two points behind national champions Juventus. The way up has started well because, in 1976, Napoli takes its second Coppa. Hellas Verona was beaten by Napoli with a score of 4-0 over two games. The Ango-Italian League Cup, an Italian-English cup tournament, was won by the Neapolitans in 1976. Because of the Coppa win, Napoli can participate in the European Cup II. There the semi-finals are reached, but the Belgian Anderlecht will go to the final instead of Napoli. In Italy, Napoli continues to finish in the top six.
Diego Armando Maradona
The attacker comes over from Barcelona. The striking transfer, but El Pibe de Oro “The Golden Boy” put Naples on the map. It was not easy, and it was hard work. Eighth place is achieved in ’85. 1986 will finally be the season of the Neapolitans. Gli Azzurri become national champions. Napoli (only) manages to score 42 points. 13 times a match ends in a draw, and 5 times they lose. In addition to the championship, Napoli de Coppa wins. Atalanta is defeated 4-0.
Real Madrid was drawn in the European Cup I season that followed. A bitter pill that Napoli could not swallow. Real eliminated the southern Italians in the first round. The following season, the UEFA Cup was won. Juventus and Bayern Munich were stopped on their way to the final. In the Olympiastadion in Munich, Diego Maradona will warm up to the sounds of Opus’ hit Life is Live. It is ultimately the most iconic warm-up in history.
The first final match is won 2-1 by goals from Maradona and Careca. The return will be played in Stuttgart. There it ends 3-3, and Napoli takes her first European cup. The cup final will also be reached this season, but it will be lost to Sampdoria.
In 1990 the second title was also added to the trophy cabinet. In 1990 the World Cup took place in Italy. Maradona urges fans to cheer for Argentina so that the Italian team only plays with Northern Italians. The Neapolitans responded with a banner; Diego, you are our love, but Italy is our blood. Maradona was moved when only the Neapolitans did not whistle the Argentine national anthem.
In 1991, Diego was caught using cocaine and left Naples. The love between Napoli and Maradona is still powerful, and the fans still love “their” Golden Boy.
Crisis at Napoli
After the departure from Maradona, it goes downhill with Napoli. Financially things are getting worse, and that is accompanied by the exodus of the club. Zola, Fonseca and Careca are examples of key players who left the club. In 1997 the cup final is still cleverly reached, but Vicenza Calcio wins the cup.
The following season, Napoli relegates with only two games won during the entire season. It continues to go downhill. In Serie B, Napoli fails to promote, causing the cash box to run empty. In 2004, the team was even declared bankrupt with a debt of 70 million euros.
The club is financially saved by the film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis. Still, the team did not receive a license from the Italian Football Association to play professional level. Napoli was given a license under a new name in Serie C1. This license could manage to work its way up again. After six years of absence, Napoli returned to Serie A in 2007. What was remarkable in this crisis period was the visitor numbers. The supporters continue to flock to the stadium, even in the C series.
Recovery of Napoli
After Napoli returned to Serie A in 2007, they have managed to work their way up again. Within the years ’10, they finished seven times in the top three of the Serie A, four times in the top 2. The Intertoto cup was also won in 2008. The Coppa Italia will also be won by gli azzurri in 2012, 2014 and 2020. They will also take the Supercopa in 2014.
Someone who contributed to this success is the Belgian Dries Mertens, who came over from PSV. Napoli has emerged as a title contender and a fighter squad. However, in the 10s, the supremacy of Juventus is so great that the southerners can fight for a long time. Although, in the end, Napoli always left empty-handed.
Napoli plays its matches at the Stadio San Paolo. It is the third-largest football theatre in Italy. The stadium was built in 1948 and was renovated in 1989 for the 1990 World Cup. 60,240 people can watch the game live during gli azzurri’s matches.
Well-known Napoli players
Well-known players who have worn the Napoli shirt are: José Altafini, Laurent Blanc, Callejón, Cannavaro, Cavani, Cruz, de Guzman, Hamsik, Higuain, Krol, Lavezzi, Maradona, Mertens, Pandev, Sivori, Stabile, Zoff and Zola.