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Marek Hamsik celebrates a decade with Napoli

And what a decade it’s been.

SSC Napoli v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by New Press/Getty Images

On June 28th, 2007, Napoli signed a 19 year old Slovakian midfielder from Brescia, acquiring a quirky young player with spiky hair who had hardly played a minute in Serie A, but had impressed in Serie B the season before. With Napoli back in the top division for the first time in six years themselves, such a signing was a risk worth taking — and ten years to the day later, it’s a risk that worked out in wonderful fashion.

That 19 year old Slovakian is now a 29 year old captain and club legend, none other than Marek Hamsik. He would score nine league goals in that first season, with his skill and character instantly making Hamsik a darling with the fanbase, a status that’s never let up in all the years since.

With Hamsik in the club, Napoli have returned to the top end of the Serie A table, making Champions League appearances and winning two Coppa Italias along the way. He’s been a major part of making this club one of the best teams in Italy again and returning the club to the international limelight again for the first time since Diego Maradona called Naples home.

In fact, Hamsik is just two goals behind Maradona on Napoli’s all-time scoring chart, a mark he’ll surely surpass early next season. Hamsik scored a whopping 15 goals as he helped lead a jaw-dropping Napoli attack that scored 94 goals in Serie A last season and 21 more in the Champions League and Coppa Italia, a huge personal turnaround after a few down years in goalscoring for the Slovakian.

Hamsik has also consistently professed his love for both the club and Naples, and has continuously rejected massive and profitable transfer offers from bigger clubs both in Italy and abroad. He’s absolutely committed to helping Napoli reach the pinnacle of achievement at any cost, and he has quite literally bled for the city that has become his home.

Marek Hamsik loves Naples and Napoli, and the club and city love him back. It’s been a wonderful relationship for the last ten years — let’s hope it’s even more wonderful and even more successful for the next decade.