As Napoli fans, we all know about the incredible link between Naples and the club. The club is the city, the city is the club. You cannot have one without the other. Many teams around the world are beloved by their local communities, but nowhere is the connection quite as profound at it is in Naples.
Football video production group Copa90 recognizes this bond, and sent their crew to Naples to illustrate just how powerful that link is. They talked to Lorenzo Insigne, Xavi Valero, and the San Paolo's PA announcer, Daniele "Decibel" Bellini, who described the club as "like a girlfriend" for many citizens of the city and told Copa90 that in Naples "if you aren't a fan of Napoli, important people won't like you."
"We are a unique set of people, we're very different from the rest of Italy," said one bar owner they interviewed. Other locals they interviewed similar thoughts. "Milan may have big businesses and industries, but here we have Napoli," says another man, followed by one who further clarified that point. "One has to understand that the Napoli team is the main motivation of this city. They are the reason we can deal with the power of the North and set ourselves free from society."
Insigne waxed poetic about his home city. "Naples is a great city, and you have to live in it to understand. It's unfortunate that people in the north only view Naples through the frame of Camorra, mafia, and pollution. As a kid, I always dreamed of playing for Napoli." He also talked about growing up after the Maradona era, saying that it was "tough to grow up [in Naples] in the shadow of Maradona, trying to live up to his myth. Everyone expects you to play like him, but Maradona is unparalleled."
Copa90 also spoke to the uncle of Ciro Esposito, the Napoli fan who was shot in the drama leading up to the Copa Italia final and who eventually died as a result of his wounds. "Initial reports said he was shot after an attempted robbery. My nephew was not a criminal. He was shot because he tried to defend a bus of Napoli fans being attacked [by Roma ultras]" Others they spoke to who knew Ciro, including a former teacher, spoke of how hard-working he was and his passion for the club and for life.
The various people that Copa90 spoke to didn't deny that Naples is a troubled city in many ways, but wish to change the perception of their home. "In a way, this tragedy gave us an opportunity," Ciro's uncle told Copa90. "A chance to tell the media 'enough! We're tired!' We want to be recognized for what we really are."
Decibel Bellini, Napoli's famous and energetic stadium announcer, laughingly talked about his in-match displays of enthusiasm. "I can't explain what I think when I'm in the stadium. I lose everything, I can't think other than concentrating on the team and supporters. For two hours, I lose my memory."
For all of this and far more fascinating details about fans and the city, go watch the video. It's wonderful, and is an absolute must-watch for all Napoli fans. If you haven't seen Copa90's work before, do yourself a favor and go check them out. They do fantastic work.