Napoli lift Serie A trophy after winning final match of 90-point campaign
Napoli fans watched their heroes finally lift the Serie A trophy on Sunday as coach Luciano Spalletti walked away from Naples after fulfilling the dream of generations of fans.
A 2-0 win over relegated Sampdoria was little more than a hors-d'oeuvre before the real reason fans jammed into the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona: to see their team lift the trophy for the first time in 33 long years.
Victor Osimhen opened the scoring from the penalty spot midway through the second half, the 26th league strike of a stunning season which made him Serie A's all-time top African scorer.
Giovanni Simeone then made sure the hosts would finish the season on 90 points in the 85th minute with a stunning long-range strike before celebrating by holding up a Napoli shirt worn by icon and compatriot Maradona.
"This season has been brilliant for me, for my teammates, and for Napoli. We deserved this," Osimhen told DAZN before discussing whether he might leave in a big-money summer move.
"I don't know, the president has to decide that. I love the people of Napoli, they have shown me so much love. For me, I don't mind, the president decides, and I will just go with the flow."
Spalletti will be on gardening leave for a year while still under contract with Napoli, and he will return to his Tuscan vineyard as the oldest coach to win the Scudetto at 64.
Napoli's title triumph was the crowning glory of Spalletti's long and eventful coaching career which has brought plenty of plaudits but few trophies.
"I need to be true to myself, leaving was a decision I made, that I came to. Even when I'm at home, it'll be like I was in the stands watching and cheering for them," said Spalletti.
Fans will be hoping that whoever takes Spalletti's place will be able to utilize the hugely talented squad assembled by outgoing sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli, as some like Osimhen are targets for richer clubs north of the Alps.
"I would tell them to trust these boys because they have a human and playing quality that means you can allow them to keep the ball rolling," said Spalletti.
Fabio Quagliarella was honoured by his fellow Napoli supporters in his final match in Italy's top flight on an emotional day for the Samp captain.
Napoli fans considered him an enemy when he left for hated rivals Juventus after just one season in 2010, unaware until years later that a bizarre stalking plot had forced his departure.
The 40-year-old, who has scored 182 Serie A goals, openly blubbed after being given a plaque by supporters who also unfurled a banner in the stands which said, "You will never be forgotten by your people."
He was then given a rousing round of applause and hugs from opposition players when he was substituted in the final moments of a procession for Napoli.
Quagliarella may continue his playing career next season as Samp, under new ownership and with bankruptcy no longer looming, try to return to the top flight.
- Dimarco keeps Inter perfect in Serie A with decisive goal at Empoli
- Szczesny errors, comical own goal sink Juve in loss to Sassuolo
- Leao back to devastating best as he helps Milan beat Verona
- Thursday in Europe: Ajax and Marseille in thriller, Liverpool fight back
- Sandro out for Juventus with hamstring injury