Football Features

Napoli’s previous Coppa Italia winners had what was (probably) your favourite attack for a while

By Squawka News

Published: 17:45, 18 June 2020

On Wednesday, Napoli won the Coppa Italia for the sixth time after beating Juventus 4-2 on penalties at the Stadio Olimpico.

The final was a tight affair, in which neither side able to find the breakthrough in 90 minutes. This was thanks, in part, to some fine goalkeeping from Juventus’ evergreen Gianluigi Buffon, particularly in injury time.

But having had the better chances in the match, Napoli took control early in the penalty shootout with Alex Meret saving from Paulo Dybala and Danilo missing, while Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano both scored.

This gave Napoli a lead they would not surrender, with Nikola Maksimovic and Arkadiusz Milik both scoring from the spot in answer to Leonardo Bonucci and Aaron Ramsey’s strikes.

Milik’s was the winning penalty, earning manager Gennaro Gattuso his first trophy as a manager, having taken over from Carlo Ancelotti in December – with Napoli in turmoil. It also saw Napoli get the better of former manager Maurizio Sarri, who was looking to win his first domestic trophy.

There is still a chance for Sarri to do that in Serie A, with Juventus currently one point clear at the top of the table with 12 games remaining. However, Napoli have prevented the Bianconeri from doing a Double, as they did in 2012 when beating Antonio Conte’s Juventus 2-0 in the Coppa Italia final.

But where are the members of that Napoli side now?

Goalkeeper: Morgan De Sanctis

Current club: Retired

One of the mainstays of the 2012-era Napoli side, Morgan De Sanctis spent four years with the club between 2009 and 2013, having joined from Sevilla. De Sanctis remained in Italy after leaving Napoli, making the relatively short trip to Roma, where he spent a further three years.

The veteran made his final move to Monaco in 2016, playing back up to Danijel Subasic and playing just once in the club’s Ligue 1-winning campaign. De Sanctis retired in 2017 at the end of his Monaco contract and quickly returned to Roma as a team manager, where he remains as vice-sporting director.

Centre-back: Salvatore Aronica

Current club: Retired

A typically tough old-fashioned Italian centre-back, Salvatore Aronica certainly played his part in Napoli’s rise after joining in 2008 and staying for five seasons.

Aronica left the Stadio San Paolo just six months after winning the Coppa Italia, joining Palermo. But during his time at the club, he was unable to help their fight against relegation before being left out of the first team in Serie B. Brief spells with Reggina and Calcio Sicilia followed before Aronica retired in 2015.

Centre-back: Paolo Cannavaro

Current club: Retired

He may be forever overshadowed by his older brother Fabio, but Paolo Cannavaro certainly enjoyed distinguished career for himself.

Cannavaro came through the ranks at Napoli but would spent seven years at Parma before returning. It was during his second spell in Naples that the centre-back enjoyed the most success, including the 2012 Coppa Italia win. After leaving Napoli in 2014, Cannavaro spent three years with Sassuolo before retiring. He his now assistant manager to brother Fabio at Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande.

Centre-back: Hugo Campagnaro

Current club: Pescara

Hugo Campagnaro spent four years with Napoli having joined from Sampdoria in 2009 and completed their back three during the exciting era which yielded the Coppa Italia trophy.

His performances at the back earned Campagnaro a spot in the Argentina national setup and a move to Inter Milan in 2013. Campagnaro would spend just two years at the San Siro playing 39 times before leaving for Pescara. He remains there, soon to celebrate his 40th birthday, but will retire at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

Right wing-Back: Christian Maggio

Current club: Benevento

A feature of Napoli’s success was the energetic display of Christian Maggio up and down the right touchline. So much so, he earned the nickname ‘Superbike’. Another important feature of his game was goalscoring. From his Napoli debut in 2008 right up to the end of his last season as a regular starter with them (2014/15), there was no defender to score more Serie A goals than Maggio (31) according to Opta.

The 38-year-old spent a decade at the club and made over 300 appearances before joining Benevento in 2018. Maggio remains at Benevento and is now captain, with the club looking likely to return to Serie A after two years away.

Central midfielder: Blerim Dzemaili

Current club: Shenzhen FC

Following a disappointing spell with Bolton in the Premier League, Blerim Dzemaili made his mark in Italian football impressing with Torino, Parma, Napoli, Genoa and Bologna, with a season-long stint at Turkish club Galatasaray chucked in for good measure.

Dzemaili spent another short loan spell in MLS with Montreal Impact before returning to Bologna, where he stayed until January 2020. The midfielder is now at Chinese Super League club Shenzhen, although he is yet to feature.

Central midfielder: Gokhan Inler

Current club: İstanbul Başakşehir

The tough-tackling Swiss enforcer became a mainstay of the Napoli side during his four-year stay making 166 appearances in all competitions.

Gokhan Inler left to join Leicester City in 2015 and, in his sole season in England, won the Premier League title. He was not a regular starter but the course of football history was perhaps changed utterly precisely because he was unable to convince Claudio Ranieri to start him. Why? Because one of his main rivals for playing time was future world-beater N’Golo Kante.

Watching on in March 2016 as Leicester improbably topped the Premier League table, Inler told the press: “I had several enquiries in January, but didn’t leave as the manager said that he was counting on me.

“But there have been no more games for me since then. It makes me sick, and the stupid thing for me is that I have the Euro 2016 finals with Switzerland this summer. I am in a critical situation. I usually speak diplomatically, but I have to face up to why things are the way they are.

“There is no point in me trying to sugar-coat the situation. I said no to West Ham, Sunderland and Schalke to join Leicester, and I would do the same again. I won’t run away and give up on the club’s project.

“I wanted a challenge and I have got one for sure.”

His next club was Besiktas, where after a year Inler was on the move once more. This time, though, the trip was shorter. He joined Istanbul Basaksehir, again winning the league in his first season at the club.

Left wing-back: Juan Camilo Zuniga

Current club: Retired

Juan Camilo Zuniga was an integral member of the side during Walter Mazzarri’s time in charge but found playing time hard to come by under his successors.

The Colombian, who famously broke Neymar’s back at the 2014 World Cup, has also played for Bologna and Watford on loan, reunited with Mazzarri at the latter. Zuniga left Napoli permanently in January 2018 to join Colombian side Atletico Nacional before retiring that summer.

Right forward: Marek Hamsik

Current club: Dalian Yifang

It is doubtful that any player will capture the hearts of Napoli supporters as much as Diego Maradona did, but Slovakian playmaker Marek Hamsik gave it a good crack.

Signing from Brescia in 2007, Hamsik clocked up 520 matches official matches during his 12-year stay in Naples, scoring 121 goals to overtake Maradona as Napoli’s all-time leading goalscorer – although he would not hold that record for too long, with Dries Mertens recently breaking it.

Left forward: Ezequiel Lavezzi

Current club: Retired

Ezequiel Lavezzi forged his reputation in Europe during a five-year spell with Napoli after joining the club from San Lorenzo in his homeland and formed part of the Holy Trinity alongside Hamsik and Edinson Cavani.

In 2013, he left to sign for PSG in one of the French club’s most expensive signings post-takeover but after falling out of favour, he made the move to China, becoming one of the best-paid players in the world in the process. After almost three years playing for Hebei China Fortune, Lavezzi called time on his playing career in December 2019.

Striker: Edinson Cavani

Current club: PSG

Another player whose career blossomed in Naples, Edinson Cavani struck 104 goals in 138 games to emerge as one of the best forwards in European football.

His outstanding form culminated in a £55m move to PSG, where he has continued to score freely, netting 200 goals in 301 appearances for the French club and helping them to win six Ligue 1 titles. But Cavani’s time at PSG is now up, with the Uruguayan searching for a new club this summer.


Goran Pandev

Current club: Genoa

North Macedonian legend Goran Pandev was on loan from Inter Milan for the 2011/12 campaign and was a second-half substitute in the Coppa Italia final. His performances over the season saw Napoli sign him on a permanent deal that summer, but he would stay just two seasons in Naples before joining Galatasaray.

Pandev spent one year in Turkey before returning to Serie A, becoming a mainstay and key part of Genoa’s side.

Andrea Dossena

Current club: Retired

Former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena made a very brief appearance in the Coppa Italia final, in what would be the only major honour of his career.

Dossena returned to England in 2013, signing for Sunderland and would later go on to represent Leyton Orient.

After leaving Orient, Dossena had a spell in Switzerland with Chiasso before returning to Italy, signing for Piacenza – eventually retiring in 2017.

Miguel Britos

Current club: Retired

Uruguayan centre-back Miguel Britos spent four years at Napoli, winning the Coppa Italia in his debut campaign.

Britos was another Napoli man to make the move to Watford, again spending four years with the Hornets in the Premier League before retiring last summer.


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