As one of the biggest Italian football clubs of all time, Napoli had many great footballers play for them, of which the Argentinian legendary Diego Maradona is the most famous. In this article are going to take a look at the best footballers who played for Napoli.
We all know Napoli as one of the best Italian football clubs and there is no doubt that they are the best football club in Southern Italy. During this club’s almost 120 years old history, lots of great footballer from Italy and other parts of the world have played for them. We want to take a look back through all these years and list some of the best Napoli Players of all time. However as always, first we will take a look back at the club’s history.
The giants of Italian football, SC Napoli, generally known as Napoli, are arguably the most popular football team in the south of Italy. Napoli does have a long and proud history that goes back to 1904. After the arrival of English sailors, especially William Poths, the Napoli club was founded in the early 1900s. Poths came from England, where the football was really famous those days and he partnered up to form Napoli alongside Ernesto Bruschini, who was originally from Naples.
Napoli has a rich and long history that goes back to 1904. Maybe their best era was when Napoli welcomed one of the most talented footballers of all time, Diego Maradona, in the 80s and 90s, which we will get down to him in our list of Napoli best footballers of all time.
During all these years the club had many ups and downs, until In August 2004, following years of economic hardship, the firm that operated Napoli declared bankruptcy. There were great debts to the club and its whole future was in risk. Finally, Aurelio De Laurentiis, the filmmaker, paid off the club's debts and re-established the team under the new name of Napoli Soccer. The team was relegated to Serie C, however, they made a swift return to the top-flight Serie A, and Napoli's old name was also revived along with it.
As we’ve said before, Napoli had many great footballers throughout all these years, but there is no doubt that the most prominent player to ever play for the club is Diego Maradona. He joined the club in 1984 and helped raise Napoli from being a weak team to one of the best in Italy. Now that we all know Napoli better, it’s time to get down to the list of best Napoli Players of all time and introduce you the legendary Napoli players ever.
The only goalkeeper in our list of best Napoli players of all time, Dino Zoff is surely one of the greatest Italian goalkeepers of all time. He was the first team goalkeeper of Napoli for 5 seasons between 1967 and 1972. During his time at the club, he played a total of 190 matches of which 143 were in Seria A. He has also played 112 matches for Italy National Team.
Having started his professional football career at Udinese, he played for 4 seasons at Mantova before joining Napoli at 1967 for a fee of 130 million Italian Lires, plus goalkeeper Claudio Bandoni. During his 5 year spell at Naples, he established himself as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation. He started to gain growing popularity in Italy throughout that time, even playing his first International match with the Italy national team in 1968 and winning a spot in Italy's Euro 68 and 1970 World Cup teams.
Also at 40 years, 4 months and 13 days, Dino Zoff is the oldest footballer to ever win the World Cup. Behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks, he was labelled the third-greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century. However, Zoff's greatest feat is his record for the longest time without conceding a goal at the international level set between 1972 and 1974 which was 1142 minutes. He definitely is amongst the best Napoli players ever.
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Moreno Ferrario is amongst the player who played more than 10 years for the club and as a legendary Napoli player ever, he definitely deserves a place in our list of best Napoli players of all time. During his 11 years tenure at the Napoli, he played 396 games for the club, scoring just 11 goals as a defender. Of these appearances, 311 were at the Italian Seria A.
After spending 5 years at the youth ranks of Varese and playing on professional terms for them between 1975 and 1977, he joined SC Napoli in the summer transfer window of 1977. However, he wasn’t a first-team player and he had to wait to be a regular starter until he made his debut for the Italy U-21 team. In his first season playing for the club, Moreno Ferrario played a total of 28 league matches for Napoli.
With the Neapolitan team, he was almost winning the Scudetto in 1981, however, he scored a very bad own goal, which gave the victory to the almost relegated Perugia a few days before the end of the league, effectively excluding Napoli from the title race. He redeemed himself fully by participating as a hero in winning the 1987 Scudetto, contributing with 29 appearances and a goal, decisive in the direct clash with Juventus, won in Turin 3-1. Ferrario is one of the Napoli best footballers of all time.
Another defender in the list of best Napoli players of all time, we have Ciro Ferrara, who was one of the best Italian center backs in his era. Ciro played 247 league matches for Napoli between 1984 and 1994, scoring 12 times. He also won many honors during his spell at Naples, namely 1986-87 and 1989-1990 Seria A, 1990 Supercoppa Italiana, 1988-89 UEFA Cup and 1986-87 Coppa Italia. Hel has also won 49 Italy caps between 1987 and 2000.
Born in Naples, Ferrara started his professional career at the youth ranks of Napoli in 1980. In 1984, Ciro went on to graduate from the Primavera youth ranks and started getting first-team call-ups that year. During his first complete season, he played 14 overall games. The next season, Ferrara was part of the starting 11, and soon started to earn a call-up to the Italian national team, getting called up to the team for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Ferrara also netted one of the goals for Napoli when they captured the 1989 UEFA Cup title.
Ferrara was an impressive, strong and destructive defender, recognized for his control, patience, tactical abilities, ball-playing skills, flexibility, and class during his career. All of these made it possible for him to play everywhere in the back-line, whether in the center, as a stopper or man-marker, or as a full-back, typically on the right side, and he also was able to adjust to different formations and tactics. As a world-class defender who is known as one of his generation's strongest Italian center-backs, he surely deserves a place in our list of Napoli legends of all time.
The only player to appear in the list of best Napoli players of all time, here is Dries Mertens, a Leuven born strikers who is one of the important Napoli players since his arrival from PSV in 2013. During his time at the club, the 33 years old Belgian has made 245 Serie A matches for Napoli, scoring 97 goals. He is also one of the regular Belgium National Team players who made 94 appearances for them and scored 21 goals.
Having started his youth career at the Belgian side Gent, he failed to make a single first-team appearance for them and was loaned to different clubs before signing for the Dutch club AGOVV. After spending 7 years and the Netherlands he signed for Napoli in 2013. After a fee of EUR 9,5 million was negotiated with PSV, he became the first signing of Spanish boss Rafael Benítez for Napoli. On 25 August 2013, he played his first Serie A match, coming on as Marek Hamšík's second-half replacement in a 3-0 victory over Bologna. On 30 October, his first goal for Napoli arrived when he scored the winner in a 2-1 away win against Fiorentina.
In all competitions, Dries Mertens has scored 128 goals for Napoli in a total of 349 matches. With a new 2 year deal given to him in the summer of 2020, he can still add to these numbers in his Napoli career and establish himself even more as one of the Napoli legends of all time.
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The next player in our list of best Napoli players of all time is Guiseppe Bruscolotti, another Italian defender who also is amongst the Napoli players with the longest tenure at the club. His Napoli career saw him play 511 matches for the club in all competitions, scoring 11 goals between 1972 and 1988. Of these matches, 387 was in league level. Despite being a great full back, he never was able to represent his country at international level.
He started his professional football career at Sorrento, helping them to win promotion Serie B in his first season with the club. The next season, he signed for Napoli after his team failed to stay at Serie B. During his seven-seasons in Naples, he spent much of his football career making more than 500 appearances for the club. His first match for Napoli in Seria A was in the 1972-73 season, in a 1-0 Ternana victory on 24 September 1972. He became a club icon and hero and played a vital role in leading Napoli to secure their first Serie A trophy in 1987; he also was Napoli's captain between 1978 and 1984, ultimately handing over the armband to legendary Diego Maradona.
Bruscolotti retired from playing professional football in 1988 when he was 37; he owns Napoli's record for most Serie A games (387), and he has played the second most matches for Napoli in all competitions behind Marek Hamsik. He has also played 96 times in Coppa Italia for Napoli and 28 in European matches. He is definitely one of the greatest players in the history of Napoli.
One of the players in our list of best Napoli players of all time to play almost all of his professional career at Naples, Antonio Juliano is one of the best midfielders in the history of Napoli. In a 16 years career at the club between 1962 and 1978, he played 505 matches and scored 38 goals in all competitions. He played 394 of those games in Seria A, scoring 26 goals. Between 1966 and 1974 he also played 18 matches for Italy.
He grew up in the youth ranks of Napoli, completing the whole process from the youth to the first team, to which he was joined in the 1961-1962 season, under the technical guidance of Bruno Pesaola. He made his absolute debut in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia that year, which they won against Mantova. The following year, his first match in the Serie A took place on February 17, 1963, in a match against Inter.
Since then, and until the end of 1977-1978, he remained in Naples, collecting 355 matches in Serie A and 39 in B, second only to Giuseppe Bruscolotti in total appearances; he also played 72 matches in the Italian Cup and 39 in the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup.
Despite not winning the league, in 1966, he became captain of the Napoli at twenty-three, he led the team to outstanding achievements: two second places, in 1967-1968 behind the Milan of Nereo Rocco , and in 1974- 1975 behind Juventus, and three third places, the first of which achieved by newly promoted in the 1965-1966 season behind Inter and Bologna. Juliano is surely amongst the best Napoli players ever.
One of the most famous players of modern-day Napoli, the Slovak Marek Hamsik is definitely one of the best Napoli players of all time, who became a club legend and icon in a 12 years career between 2007 and 2019. During these years, he played 520 matches for the team, scoring 121 goals in all competitions. Of these appearances, 408 were in Serie A, where he was able to score 100 goals for Napoli. He is a regular Slovakia national team player since 2007 and so far played 126 matches for them, scoring 26 times.
Having started his professional football in Slovan Bratislava, he transferred to Napoli in the summer transfer window of 2007 form Brescia when the club was newly promoted to Serie A. He was quickly turned to a first-team player for the club, only to play at the highest level for them in the next 12 seasons, becoming one of the greatest players in the history of Napoli.
Hamsik is a fast, enthusiastic, fast, and tactically flexible player who can play on each side of the field as well as through the middle in multiple offensive positions. He can play football as a central midfielder, a defensive midfielder, a mezzala, a winger, or an inside forward. Marek Hamsik is without a doubt one of the legendary Napoli players ever.
One of the oldest players in our list of best Napoli players of all time, we have Attila Sallustro, a Paraguayan striker who played for the club between 1926 and 1937, scoring 108 goals in 266 matches in all competitions. After gaining the Italian nationality, he won a can for Italy in 1932.
Once they were originally recognized as Internaples, he joined the club and remained on for the rest of his professional career with Napoli. He was dubbed 'Il Divino' and 'Il Veltro' in Napoli. Sallustro opted not to earn any financial payments from the club, but he was honoured with a luxurious automobile.
He played for 12 years at Napoli, netting 107 goals, in a career that was interrupted due to World War II at one stage. He had a sibling called Oreste Sallustro, two years younger and sometimes he was referred to as Sallustro II. At Napoli, the two played together while Oreste played less often. As one of the best Napoli players ever, he remained in Naples after retirement from football and died there in 1983.
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In our list of best Napoli players of all time, we’ve so far had many players who established themselves as great footballers and then moved on to Juventus, but Antonio Vojak is just the opposite, as he first made a name for himself in Turin and then transferred to Napoli, only to establish himself as legendary Napoli players ever. He played 190 league matches for the club between 1929 and 1935, scoring 102 goals.
During the 1924-25 season, Vojak's football career began at Lazio, his tenure there was quite short; playing just 10 games and scoring 7 goals. This attracted the attention of Juventus manager, and they signed Vojak.
Vojak was a member of the team that claimed the Italian Football Championship in 1926 throughout his three-year tenure with the Turin team, accumulating 46 goals in 102 games for them in all, and also 2 European Cup games versus Slavia Prague in 1929.
He then transferred to Napoli, participating in the Attila Sallustro team. Until 1935, he continued playing for the club, scoring around 100 goals for them. Vojak also appeared once in 1932 as a midfield player for the Italian national football team.
As one of the Napoli legends of all time, Vojak only played two more years since departing Napoli, first for Genoa and then for Lucchese-Libertas in 1936-37, where he just played 1 game.
The most famous player in the list of best Napoli players of all time, and probably the best player in the history of football, we have Diego Maradona, the Argentinian legendary footballer who helped the Napoli to win their first-ever Seria A, transforming the club to be amongst the best in Italy. Between 1984 and 1991, Maradona played 259 matches for Napoli in all competitions, scoring 115 goals. At the time he was a member of Argentinian National Team, winning the 1986 World Cup with them.
On 5 July 1984, Maradona joined Napoli and was unveiled to the world media as their newest addition, where 75,000 fans cheered him at his unveiling at the Stadio San Paolo. Everyone at Naples was very ecstatic about his signing, and many fans were considering El Diego as their savior. Before the rise of Maradona at Napoli, the teams from northern and central Italy dominated the country's football, such as A.C Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan and Roma and no southern Italian club has won the Serie A ever.
Maradona played his best ever club football at Napoli, he soon became the team captain and got the armband from Giuseppe Bruscolotti and rapidly became a loved and respected celebrity among the supporters of the club; he raised the club to the most prosperous era in its history. Diego Maradona will always be remembered as one of the Napoli best footballers of all time.