25 November is day throughout history that has seen football honour its legends. It’s a day that AC Milan pay homage to one of their most fantastic and gifted opponents. On 25 November 2005, AC Milan’s 1969 Champions Cup Semi Final mythical and legendary opponent George Best passed away. On 25 November 2020, however, everyone fell to their knees to grieve: goodbye Diego. He leaves us having been an incredible and champion adversary, one that simply played in his own class.
There were so many encounters between AC Milan and Napoli, both home and away; it’s a fixture in which we’ve conceded so many amazing goals, each more beautiful than the other. There was his headed lob in 1988 at San Paolo and his highlight-reel finish in 1989. They were all incredible goals that came starting from the summer of 1986, when even Giovanni Galli, who was nearing his move to AC Milan, was hypnotised by the sensational and refined touch with which Diego sculpted the goal scored in the 1-1 fixture between Argentina and Italy at the World Cup in Mexico. Incidentally, it turned out to be the same season the Argentina national team would go on to lift the cup.
Maradona played at San Siro against AC Milan in the third-last game of his journey in Italian football. After AC Milan v Napoli on 3 March 3 1991, Diego went on to play against Bari and Sampdoria before leaving our country as a footballer. His last month as a Serie A footballer is still honoured among our people after he showcased his talents in our stadium. There are so many moments we recall of him: he swapped shirts with Franco Baresi and wore our kit in front of the cameras after Napoli v AC Milan at San Paolo, duelled with Ruud Gullit for the Ballon D’Or and we saw the Rossoneri flags wave fiercely ahead of the clash between the two teams on 1 May in the heart of Naples. With him, football had always been pure and alive. It was the sport of the people that took on its own language.
Diego has always been a loyal adversary for the entirety of AC Milan, as well as a great teammate and role model for numerous important Rossoneri players from Walter De Vecchi, Francesco Romano, Giovanni Galli and Giuseppe Incocciati on the pitch to Alberto Bigon and Ottavio Bianchi on the bench. Diego passed away just a few days after this season's Napoli v AC Milan, a few days after Ibra and Gattuso. Naples was the city and club of his life. His style of football and what he accomplished will live forever, just as Diego will. It is right that Naples, his Naples, knows it forever.