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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Oct 13, 2013

Reina: Higuain can match Maradona

Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina is hopeful that Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain can make a similar impact on the city of Naples as Diego Maradona.

When Maradona was taken ill in 2004, shrines were constructed in Naples, including this one, which claimed to showcase a strand of his hair
When Maradona was taken ill in 2004, shrines were constructed in Naples, including this one, which claimed to showcase a strand of his hair

Reina, on loan at the Italian club from Liverpool where he has been reunited with former manager Rafael Benitez, has seen first hand how Maradona is viewed in the city. The legendary No. 10 led the Partenopei to two Serie A titles during a seven-year spell at the club between 1984 and 1991 and became a virtual deity for the fans -- something that new signing Higuain has been tasked with following.

"You can breathe football here, it's almost like a religion," Reina told Marca. "The god is obviously Maradona and will be for many years. In any restaurant in Naples you can see souvenirs of him, from shirts to photos. I hope the same can happen with Higuain. He's the idol of the moment."

Reina was also keen to put his ambition forward for the Serie A title this year, although admitted that Roma and Juventus will be tough challengers.

"The idea this year is to win the Scudetto," he said. "Juventus are the reigning champions of Italy and are used to playing in the Champions League, while Roma are doing very well and don't have any other cups.

"I don't know what might happen in the city if we win the title. The people are very similar to those in the south of Spain. There's certainly no lack of enthusiasm and passion. Playing in the San Paolo is extraordinary."

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