New Napoli signing Gonzalo Higuain expressed his delight at joining the club as he was paraded at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of the side's friendly with Galatasaray on Monday night.
The gates to the stadium were open over three hours before kick-off, but, in light of events earlier in the day with a bus crash in nearby Avellino killing 38 people, Napoli preferred to tone down the affair.
“We’ve put the party back to August 9 when we meet Benfica,” announced club president Aurelio De Laurentiis before a minute’s applause for the victims of the motorway accident. “It doesn’t seem right to celebrate.”
The warmth of the fans was nevertheless enough for coach Rafael Benitez, Higuain and fellow new arrivals Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens to savour the kind of atmosphere they can look forward to when 60,000 fans urge the Partenopei on towards their first Scudetto in 24 years.
“If the San Paolo’s like this now for a friendly, I can only imagine what it’s like when we win here,” Benitez said after Napoli’s playing squad walked out one by one to take the applause and affection - less so Juventus and Inter Milan target Juan Zuniga, who was greeted by jeers - culminating in the arrival of club record signing Higuain.
“I’m delighted to be here,” he pronounced. “I hope we can do really great things. We have a strong side and fantastic fans.”
Higuain then pulled on the blue Napoli home shirt while the yellow second strip and innovative camouflage-coloured third strip were unveiled prior to kick-off.