Ghana international Kevin Prince Boateng believes the most befitting homage that can be paid to ‘football god’ Diego Maradona is when Lionel Messi wraps up his career by joining Italian side SSC Napoli.
Lionel Messi, 33, deemed as the natural successor to the legendary Maradona – who passed away aged 60 on November 25 – previously worked with the 1986 World Cup winner during Maradona’s time as head coach of the Albicelestes, paid his respects to his idol by removing his Barca kit to reveal a Newell’s Old Boys shirt earlier this month.
However, Boateng – who has had a nomadic career playing over ten clubs and currently stationed at Italian lower tier side AC Monza believes Messi, who handed in a transfer request before the start of the season should honour his idol by signing for Napoli when his contract expires at Barcelona.
“Messi’s going to finish his contract at Barcelona, [but] how amazing would it be if he would just call Napoli and say ‘I will come’?” Boateng told ESPN.
“‘They don’t give out the No. 10 shirt anymore, [but] I would love to honour Maradona’s No. 10 and I would love to come and play one year or two years at Naples, without thinking about money or nothing, just heart.’”
Maradona’s status in Naples is mythical, having won the Italian title twice during his seven-year stay at Napoli, whose San Paolo stadium has been renamed in his honour since his passing.
“It would be like a movie,” Boateng continued. “He’d have to go to practice by a f—ing helicopter because people would eat him alive they’d be so happy.
“But just that story: ‘In honour of Maradona, I will come and play for Naples,’ what kind of story would that be for the world, not only for football, for the world?
“It would be a message, it would be history everywhere. I just wish I would be in Messi’s shoes. I want to be Messi. I would call the president of Naples and I would tell him.”
Meanwhile, Napoli honoured their former player by wearing the No. 10 shirt with Maradona at the back of the jersey in a Europa League game as well as rechristen their stadium to Stadio Diego Maradona.
For Boateng, Maradona’s ‘strong bond’ with the club and the city is as much about what he achieved off the pitch as on it, with the player’s attitude to life in Italy explaining why he remains so beloved in the city.
“I heard stories about him where he came out from the training ground and saw families and gave them money and said ‘everything’s going to be alright’,” Boateng recalled.
“That’s what made him so special in Naples. Of course he won the league, but he was like a person you could touch, and it’s difficult to find.
“He was always there; you saw him scoring an amazing goal, and then the next day, you could find him walking through the streets.”