Champions Napoli return home as city revels in victory hangover
Naples (Italy) (AFP) -
Napoli's champions returned home Friday after winning their first Serie A title in 33 years, greeted at their training camp by hundreds of jubilant fans following a raucous night of partying in Naples.
Waving blue-and-white flags, singing songs and honking horns, ecstatic fans went wild at the sight of the players' white bus returning to the team's training centre in Castel Volturno, northwest of Naples.
The returning heroes who brought Napoli its third Scudetto in its history Thursday night arrived by plane from Udine at the nearby Grazzanise Air Base, where fans wearing 'Champions of Italy' T-shirts were similarly on hand to greet them.
The boisterous celebrations are set to run into the weekend, at least until Napoli's next home fixture against Fiorentina on Sunday evening.
Naples had been abuzz all day, still giddy with joy after nearly all-night celebrations for Napoli's first Serie A title in over three decades.
'It was the most beautiful night,' enthused Francesca Raucci, who said her head finally hit the pillow at 4:00 am.
'It was a unique emotion, there was a flood of people, they were hugging each other, dancing.'
Throughout the night, Naples' narrow streets were filled with the sounds of cheering, chants, firecrackers and flares, cars and scooters honking their horns, their passengers waving flags and banners.
Amid the celebrations, however, hundreds of people were injured and one man died of gunshot wounds in what Mayor Gaetano Manfredi said was 'a settling of scores' unrelated to the festivities.
Napoli's 1-1 draw at Udinese Thursday evening had secured the Scudetto for Luciano Spalletti's side, their first since the era of Diego Maradona, who led the team to victory in 1987 and 1990.
Fans had prepared for weeks to celebrate, as Napoli built up an increasingly unbeatable lead against nearest-placed rivals Lazio.
Blue flags and bunting adorned every possible surface of the city centre, as did images of Maradona and star striker Victor Osimhen, whose goal on Thursday pushed southern Italy's biggest club over the line.
Emanuele Canzano, 42, was among those who did not get much sleep, but on Friday morning set off for work happily in his Napoli jersey.
His newborn son also went to sleep in Napoli pyjamas.
'We waited 33 years, he only waited ten days!' Canzano said, laughing.
Garbage collectors were busy cleaning up debris Friday morning, and one street vendor in a cowboy hat continued to try to drum up business, shouting 'Flags, jerseys, scarves -- Go Napoli!'
A total of 203 people were treated in the city's hospitals overnight, according to health authorities, 22 of them for serious injuries.
There were knife wounds, people injured by firecrackers or suffering from smoke inhalation, and one cocaine overdose.
- King Diego -
Napoli's victory made the front pages of all Italy's major newspapers Friday, while the local Il Mattino ran a bumper special edition under the headline: 'Naples Sings'.
'Under the sign of King Diego' read another of its headlines, demonstrating the enduring love for the Argentine great in this city.
Maradona, who died in 2020 at the age of 60, led Napoli to their first two titles earning the eternal adoration of the club's fans.
Many of those celebrating -- including coach Spalletti -- described how Maradona was watching over the team.
Retired midfielder Alemao, who helped win the title with Napoli in 1990, said he was sad his friend was not alive to celebrate this week.
Seeing Napoli win 'would have made him really happy -- it would have completed his party,' the 61-year-old Brazilian told AFP in an interview in his hometown of Lavras in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.
Back in Naples, local Giuseppe Posticlione was headed to work amid streets littered with bottles and other reminders of the party.
'After 33 years it was magnificent,' the 46-year-old said of the victory.
'Sunday at the stadium will be great, and we'll be there.'