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Diego Maradona keen on Napoli role

Diego Maradona says he is willing to consider an offer from Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to represent the Italian club throughout the world.

Diego Maradona is a Napoli legend.
Diego Maradona is a Napoli legend.

De Laurentiis made the offer on Wednesday night after welcoming the Argentina legend to the Stadio San Paolo for the first time in almost a decade to witness the 3-0 Coppa Italia semifinal victory over Roma.

As well as handing over a shirt with the No. 10 and "Diego" written on the back, De Laurentiis also asked the Argentine -- still a hero to Napoli fans -- if he would be willing to formalise his representation of the Serie A club across the globe.

"We can talk about it," Maradona said. "I've got Napoli in my heart so it's only natural for me to take them with me around the world."

Maradona was back in Italy for more serious reasons, however. He is fighting to clear his name of tax evasion allegations relating to his spell as a Serie A player.

The Italian authorities, who confiscated expensive items of jewellery on Maradona's previous visits to Italy, are demanding a sum of 40 million euros in unpaid taxes, including accrued interest.

"I'm happy to be in Italy and I will make sure that truth and justice are triumphant, like Napoli always, in front of the citizens and European and Italian judges," Maradona said.

"I will present myself to the European Commission and Parliament who have decided to take an interest [in this case] because I never escaped and ran away. In fact, like anybody else, I have the right and duty towards Italians and my fans to defend myself from false accusations and injustices and to eliminate any misunderstandings.

"I'm sorry that there are still people who think I'm a tax evader, but I can walk wherever I go with my head held high and shout to the world that I have never taken a single Lira off the Italians. I've always been innocent and I've always respected the institutions and Italians, in addition to giving joy and success to Italy."

"There has never been any of this presumed tax evasion," added his defendant Angelo Pisani ahead of the tribunal on Friday.

Corriere dello Sport reports that, on Wednesday, Maradona stopped off at a motorway service station where he ordered toasted sandwiches for a group of Napoli fans.

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