And as the whistle blew on Napoli’s 1-1 draw at Udinese late Thursday, the southern Italian city erupted into a collective roar of joy at its team securing their first Serie A title since the days of Diego Maradona.
“It’s unbelievable! It’s been so long!” said Facundo Quense, 33, as fans celebrated with tears, shouts, laughter and hugs amid a sea of smoke from red flares.
The team was playing on the other side of the country but fans gathered across Naples to follow the match on big screens in squares and in front of churches.
“We will win the title!” they chanted over and over as horns blew across streets and balconies that have been adorned in blue bunting, blue flags and blue banners for weeks.
When the moment of victory finally came, the night air was filled with cheers, chants and fireworks, the incessant honking from mopeds and cars adding to the joyful tumult.
“We feel a weight has been lifted because it has been so many years of effort — and we are finally rewarded,” said Fabrizio D’Anielo, 35, his face covered in blue powder.
Some 55,000 fans watched the match on the big screen in the Stadio Maradona, the stadium named after the Argentine striker that many here consider nearly divine.
It was under the leadership of Maradona — who died in 2020 — that Napoli won its first Scudetto in 1987 and its second in 1990.