They’ve finally done it. After 33 years of hurt, some close finishes, some collapses, and some dominance by others, Napoli have secured the Serie A title with five games to spare. Luciano Spalletti and his men have etched their names in Napoli’s history alongside icons of the game like Diego Maradona.
Napoli’s league title win was their third in history. The Neapolitans last won the title in 1990, when Diego Maradona was the talisman of his side as he scored 16 goals to lead his team to their second Serie A title in four years. Nobody knew then that that would be their last Serie A title for another 33 years.
This is Napoli 🎇🔵🤯 pic.twitter.com/qfkAEfHp3J
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 4, 2023
Now that the decades of drought is over, we look back at Napoli’s league titles-
Napoli league titles-
First- 1986/87 season
Diego Maradona had arrived to great fanfare from Barcelona two years earlier, in 1984. Napoli had never won the Scudetto, coming close on a few occasions.
Maradona’s first two seasons were promising but nothing special. Napoli finished 8th and 3rd, showing continuous improvements. They finally made the jump to the championship in the 1986/87 season.
With Ciro Ferrara coming of age in defence, and Maradona weaving his magic as the No 10, or “The Trequartista“, Napoli delighted the fans and neutrals. They finished three points ahead of Juventus and made history.
Napoli had arrived, and they were going nowhere. Manager Ottavio Bianchi heralded a golden era for the club in which they did the double by winning the Serie A title and Coppa Italia and followed it up with a UEFA Cup victory in the 1988/89 season.
Second- 1989/90 season
New manager, and some new players, but Diego Maradona was still there. After the departure of Ottavio Bianchi and the arrival of Alberto Bigon, Napoli began their assault on another Scudetto. The Milan clubs won one each in the two years in between, with Napoli finishing second both times.
However, they were not to be denied in the 1989/90 season. Diego Maradona upped his goalscoring game, finishing 3rd in the charts. He was ably assisted by a fresh-faced Gianfranco Zola in the attack. Ciro Ferrara developed into a leader in defence after two close shaves with the titles.
Napoli finished with 51 points (two points for a win instead of three), two points ahead of Milan. They celebrated their second league title in just four years. The trophies were flowing in Naples. Nobody saw the drought heading their way.
With Diego Maradona leaving the club amid drug problems and a cocaine-induced ban, Napoli would never win another Serie A title until the current batch came in and defied convention.
Third- 2022/23 season
Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli came close, even racking up 91 points in a season but they, just like others, fell to the Juventus juggernaut.
This time, Spalletti was determined to create a juggernaut of his own. Backed by astute signings in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Kim Min-Jae, and a breakout season by Victor Osimhen, Spalletti’s free-flowing team started the season on fire and never let up.
Napoli scored the most goals, conceded the least goals, won the most matches, and had the “Capocannoniere” (Top scorer) in Victor Osimhen. The title was won with five games still to go, which should have been more if not for some stumbles as the finishing line inched closer.
Osimhen scored 22 goals, while the Georgian wonder Kvaratskhelia scored 12 and provided 10 assists as the duo became the envy of almost every attack in Europe. In midfield, stars were born as Stanislav Lobotka and Eljif Elmas had the best seasons of their career.
In defence, Kim Min-Jae is now a wanted man and most was extracted out of previously unheralded talents like Giovanni di Lorenzo and Amir Rrahmani.
Now that the title is won, a bigger challenge awaits. Serie A is no longer the wealthiest league financially. Bigger fish with deeper pockets will undoubtedly come sniffing for Napoli’s league winners. It will be up to Spalletti and hardened negotiator President Aurelio de Laurentiis to replace the sold players and keep their best players. It is the only way to ensure that another drought doesn’t ensue in the coming years.