Marek Hamsik: The man who broke Maradona’s goal record at Napoli
At the Stadio San Paolo in Napoli, one of the humongous images that adorn the walls is that of Diego Maradona. For a long time, El Pibe held the record for being Napoli’s record goalscorer; that record has since been bashed-in by a certain Marek Hamsik.
For seven years, between 1984 and 1991, fans of the Partenopei were held spellbound by the incredible talent of Diego Maradona. The Argentine won no less than five trophies with the Neapolitans, engraving his name into their record books as top-scorer. Twenty-six years later, a Slovakian midfielder would take that honour.
In 2007, Napoli paid €5.5 million for a 20-year-old Slovak international who was just beginning to prove his mettle as a goalscoring midfielder. Big things would follow. 10 years on, that youngster would be skipper and record goalscorer of Napoli football club.
Marek Hamsik: Is he among the best?
Considering his astonishing achievements, it’s quite surprising that Hamsik doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves. Perhaps largely because he plays in Serie A, which just doesn’t enjoy as much coverage and publicity as the Premier League or La Liga. Else, a player like Hamsik should be a household name in world football today.
Nicknamed 'Marekiaro', Hamsik, with nine strikes in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and then 12 in 2009-10 is the first player to finish as Napoli's leading scorer in three successive seasons since Maradona.
Aside, his ability to venture forward and score great goals, Hamsik is the classic number 10, who can read the game, create chances and give a strong tackle. The former Brescia midfielder has proven relentlessly that he’s among the best playmakers in the game. Many don't know that.
Hamsik has scored 96 Serie A goals and could be breaking another goal record if he scores eight more. Antonio Vojak's club record of 103 Serie A goals is on the line. Few strikers can boast to have achieved so much in one decade, let alone a midfielder. Hamsik has simply been phenomenal for the Partenopei and can be regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation.
🇦🇷 Diego Maradona - 115— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 23, 2017
🇸🇰 Marek Hamšík - 116*
The Slovakian etches his name into Napoli folklore... pic.twitter.com/4FUkYM4qGV
Undying commitment to Napoli
Top teams usually have scouts scattered all over the globe so there’s no question about Hamsik’s amazing talent not being noticed by Europe’s elite clubs. Actually, in 2015, the Slovakian’s future became a subject of hot debate. He had endured a series of gunpoint robbery incidents in Naples and his talent was required by top Premier League teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Marekiaro had a choice to make.
Super agent, Mino Raiola had suggested that the midfielder must leave the Stadio San Paolo for a bigger team so as to reach his full potential.
Almost expectedly, Hamsik, through his agent, Juraj Venglos, rebuffed Raiola’s advice and chose to stick with the Azzurri. In an emotional letter to mark his 10-year career with Napoli, Hamsik described playing for Napoli as the greatest honour of his life. Such undying loyalty, the Neapolitans number 17 once compared winning one trophy with Napoli as equal to winning 10 elsewhere.
In a quote attributed to UEFA.com, Hamsik had this to say about the Napoli shirt:
"The Napoli shirt is my second skin, but my mission will not be over until we have won the Italian title."
Admirably, he scored in the final when Napoli won the Coppa Italia in 2012; their first in 25 years. He was also chiefly involved when they repeated the feat in 2014.
A Naples boy through and through, Marek Hamsik is on his way to becoming Napoli’s most featured player. He’s already appeared 478 times for the Serie A table-toppers and is not too far away from breaking Giuseppe Bruscolotti's record of 511 appearances for the Azzurri.
Still vibrant and kicking, Marek Hamsik, who is Napoli youngest ever captain, could still achieve a lot more with Maurizio Sarri’s team. Perhaps have the number 17 jersey retired in his honour as the number 10 was for Maradona.