Loyalty is a topic that football fans love to argue about. Dimitri Payet has been the most recent player to be abused because of the way he got himself an exit from West Ham. But One player who has rejected numerous offers from around Europe is Napoli’s captain Marek Hamšík.
Napoli fans are undoubtedly one of the most impressive fan bases across Europe. Regularly selling out the 60,000 capacity Stadio San Paolo, as well as travelling in large numbers for away games. For the players, they can be hard to impress, but give everything for their team and they’ll love you like a son.
Hamšík signed for Napoli for just €5.5 million in 2007, after an impressive spell with Brescia. Hamšík finished his first season with Napoli as their top scorer (nine goals) and was already looking like a great piece of business.
Hamšík has earned praise from both current and ex players, but none mean more than from his idol, Pavel Nedvěd.
“Hamšík is my heir. He is the footballer who most resembles me in terms of his characteristics and playing style.”
At 29 years of age, Hamšík is already a Napoli legend. Despite not winning the Scudetto, Hamšík is on the verge of breaking Diego Maradona‘s goalscoring record for the Partenopei. Currently sitting on 110 goals, he needs just 6 more to break the record.
Marek Hamšík has now scored 110 goals for Napoli across all competitions.
Only Diego Maradona has more (115). pic.twitter.com/b2RXXml6xy
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 19, 2017
Whether it be Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuaín or currently Dries Mertens, Hamšík has often been overlooked by pundits or journalists. Not that this bothers him, of course. Hardworking, energetic and most importantly a leader; Hamšík has been adored by Napoli fans for getting on with his job without a fuss.
Hamšík’s connection to the fans was most evident on 3rd May 2014, before the Coppa Italia Final in Rome. Napoli were to face Fiorentina, when before the game three Napoli fans were shot. Napoli fans refused to allow the game to start, only for a conversation between the Ultras and their captain. Hamšík climbed the barriers to talk to the fans in order to restore order and get the game started. No other player could have sorted the mess. Imagine Laurent Koscielny trying to calm Arsenal fans? Or Wayne Rooney at the Stretford End? Don’t think so.
Napoli have retired the number 10 shirt, after Maradona led them to two Italian titles (1987 and 1990) but if one man could wear that shirt it’d be Hamšík. He’s rejected offers from Arsenal and Liverpool on multiple occasions and seen teammates leave for ‘bigger’ clubs. It’s safe to say Higuaín would be in danger if he ever visited Naples again!
28th June 2017 will mark 10 years since Hamšík signed for Napoli. His arrival in Naples has since seen the most successful period for the club since Diego Maradona’s seven seasons in Italy. Although he’s not been able to deliver a Scudetto, 2 Coppa Italia titles and 1 Supercoppa Italiana is decent for a club who only regained promotion to Italy’s top division in 2007.
Hamšík has seen players and managers come and go. He’s been deployed in different positions across midfield and attack but has always delivered for his team. Currently in third place in Serie A, 10 points behind leaders Juventus, the league title will almost certainly be out of reach but Champions League qualification is more than likely. As long as Napoli can keep their best players this summer and recruit well, they could well be dark horses for the European glory as well as looking to challenge Juventus domestically.
“I love Napoli and the fans love me. I could never leave this town. I would rather win one trophy here than ten elsewhere.”
In August of 2016, Hamšík signed a new four-year deal keeping him at the club until 2020. Talent can only get you so far, but with the mentality and commitment Hamšík has shown to Napoli he’s undoubtedly a club legend. Even after being robbed at gunpoint twice(!), it’d take something incredible to make Hamšík leave Naples.