November 1989, lights on at the San Paolo stadium, where the azzurri are playing Wettingen in the second leg of the Uefa Cup knockout phase. Napoli surprisingly ended the first half down 1-0, before Baroni and substitute Mauro overturned the scoring in the second half, pushing the reigning champs into the next phase. A tough match that saw no sign of Maradona on the pitch and neither on the bench.
So, what looked like a narrow victory for a distracted eye, was quickly turned into the ultimate proof of a definite break happening between Diego and the azzurri’s temperamental president, Corrado Ferlaino.
The beef has been around since May 1989, when Ferlaino went back on his promise to set the Argentine phenomenon free in case of victory of the Uefa Cup final against Stuttgart, led on the pitch by the future German national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
The day after the match against Wettingen, Diego arrived at the training center of Soccavo dressed in a questionable green polo shirt, spent a few hours training and joking with his teammates, before leaving Castel Volturno dropping a passive-aggressive statement to the Italian journalists crammed there: “Ferlaino is my boss, I’ll take the field as soon as he wants”.
And yet El Diez and Ferlaino loved each other so much during the early years of the Argentinian in Naples. Or at least, Ferlaino was really in love with Maradona from a sports standpoint, otherwise he would have never spent over 13 billion to bring Diego to San Paolo. And he would have never spoiled his champion by gifting him the first Ferrari Testarossa de color negro ever produced – or was it a F40 maybe?
Let’s go with order: Maradona’s popularity was overwhelming in the summer of 1986. Fresh from the incredible triumph at Mexico’s 1986 World Cup, where he drove his teammates to victory showing a charisma that made many Neapolitans compare him to popular hero Masaniello, Diego came back to Naples riding the wave of success. After landing at Capo di Chino, he sent his manager and confident Guillermo Coppola to Ferlaino, a former Mille Miglia pilot, asking for something that was never seen before: a whole black Ferrari.
Here the story starts fading into legend. If we stick to what Coppola told TyC Sports, that request came just right after the World Cup triumph and Diego asked specifically for a F40 – but F40 was still under development in 1986, hidden in the secret labs of Maranello, and the model officially debuted the following year.
Hence why it’s more likely Coppola confused the F40 with a Ferrari Testarossa, also because Maradona actually arrived at the training center after the game against Wettingen driving a dark matte Ferrari, notes of Julio Iglesias’ Non dimenticar che t’ho voluto tanto bene whirring out from the stereo. And here comes the second incongruity: legends say Maradona, once he noticed the car had no stereo nor air conditioning, blurted out: “Bueno presidente, entonces que se la metan en el cul…”. A description matching the interior of a Ferrari F40, since the Testarossa was actually equipped with every comfort.
A pretty tangled anecdote, as always when there’s Maradona involved, and also another excuse to debate his controversial figure. But as Daniele Manusia writes on l’Ultimo Uomo, if canonization and condemnation are two faces of the same medal, yet Maradona should be portrayed without falling into the simplistic good versus evil contention. To honor his cultural impact and global influence, we should always consider his complexity as a football player, as a man and as a popular hero as well. A complexity that affected every aspect of his life, even the most ordinary such as understanding what Ferrari he drove in the streets of Naples
EDITOR: Andrea Pagliari