A crime of almost sacrilegious proportions was committed in Naples, as a painting of Napoli icon Diego Maradona‘s left foot was stolen from a popular mural in the city, before being found and returned to the city’s most famous tribute to their idol.
As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the painting of a cast of the former Napoli captain’s left foot was stolen from the Quartieri Spagnoli area of the city on Friday evening, but was discovered and returned to the iconic shrine on Via Emanuele de Deo the following day.
The painting was owned by Maradona‘s friend and former manager, Stefano Ceci, and was put on display on October 30, 2022, after being donated by him to mark what would have been the ex-Argentina international’s 62nd birthday.
Maradona’s iconic left foot returned home
Whilst there are a wide array of mementos and tributes laid out at the base of the enormous mural of Maradona at the Quartieri Spagnoli square in full exposure, it is reported that theft of such items is a rarity.
The painting was discovered early on Saturday afternoon and has been returned to it’s former position, remaining in it’s gilded frame to go back on display to supporters and tourists.
The fresco has become something of a shrine to Maradona since being unveiled in 1990, shortly after the forward had inspired Napoli to their second Serie A title earlier that year, and it was restored in 2016. Following his passing from a cardiac arrest on 25 November 2021, the mural became a site of mourning for the entire city, before Napoli‘s Stadio San Paolo was renamed the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in his honour.
Maradona’s eternal status at Napoli
Maradona enjoyed a hugely successful career with Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, and the Argentinian national team, having almost single-handedly led his nation to the 1986 World Cup.
Yet, it is at Napoli where he made the biggest impact and is most fondly remembered, with Maradona identifying with the Partenopei faithful instantly and being the inspiration behind two scudetto successes, in 1987 and 1990, as well as a Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup triumph.
The forward scored 115 goals in 259 appearances for Napoli, and no Azzurri side have come as close to emulating his success as the current team under Luciano Spalletti, as they sit 15 points clear at the top of the Serie A table.