Europe. After Platini’s arrival, Juve were involved in an international final in four of the five seasons that he played for the club. Winning all their five international finals bar one, La Madama had finally made a mark in Europe and established herself as the team to beat in Europe. Le Roi had finally ended her long wait in the European Cup.
An era that witnessed two Scudetti, one Coppa, one Cup Winners’ Cup, one European Supercup, one European Cup and an Intercontinental Cup in just four seasons. An era that all Juventini dear very close to their heart because it is the only era to oversee Juve win more international trophies than domestic trophies. More interestingly, 4 of Juve’s total 11 international trophies came in this era but only 3 of Juve’s total 55 domestic trophies were won in this era. The Platini era that dominated Europe.
There is an argument for labelling Platini’s period between 1983 to 1985 as the greatest period of individual performance in the sport’s history – Daniel Storey, Portrait Of An Icon
Once Maradona arrived, Napoli won their first Scudetto ever and just the second team to win the Championship from South of Rome. Gli Azzurri had been launched in Italy. El Pibe de Oro had realized the dream of every passionate Neapolitan.
A cycle that witnessed two Scudetti, one Coppa, one Supercoppa and the UEFA Cup. Napoli are yet to repeat such success. Historic achievements in Italy and Europe. They haven’t won a Scudetto or a European trophy since. 5 of Napoli’s total 10 major trophies were won in that cycle. The Maradona cycle.
Maradona is the hyperbolic beast, in the infernal and mythological sense. Divine and magical genius. A fabulous match winner for when the competitive moment requires, he’s perfectly coordinated at the right place to invent the inborn genius – Italian journalist Gianni Brera
Platini met Maradona for the first time in December 1984 at the Communale. Juve were reigning Italian Champions while Napoli were slowly opening a cycle after re-building over the summer. Michel was at his peak as he scored and emerged with a 2-0 win. The second meeting was at San Paolo in May. A less exciting 0-0 draw in a game that Juve practically did not ‘play’ in order to conserve energy for their European Cup final against Liverpool as the Scudetto was sealed by Hellas Verona surprisingly. La Vecchia finished 5th while Partenopei ended at 8th.
The third encounter came in November 1985 in Naples. Maradona, on this occasion, scored and won 1-0. The fourth encounter came in March 1986 as a 1-1 draw at Turin saw both Platini and Maradona play a key role in the solitary goal scored by their two teams. However, it must be noted that both these fixtures were sandwiched before and after Juve’s exhausting decisive knock-out ties with Verona and Barcelona in the European Cup. La Madama finished her season re-claiming the Scudetto while Partenopei ended in 3rd.
The fifth confrontation took place in December 1986 in Piedmont as Juve lost 1-3. No goals from either Platini or Maradona but the latter’s corner resulted in the second goal. El Diego was at his peak and if not for his nemesis goalkeeper, Stefano Tacconi, the Argentinian genius would have had a goal or two. Tacconi would turn into a villain in the sixth and final confrontation. Gli Azzurri would win 2-1 with two mistakes from Tacconi. No goals from either Maradona or Platini as the former claimed the win and ultimately the Scudetto but the latter had the final individual say with an assist for the equaliser that nearly clinched an unfair positive result for his team.
A cycle had finally ended for Juve after Michel had dragged his side to a Scudetto, an Intercontinental Cup and a second placed finish in his final two seasons despite the club’s failure to rebuild by adding strong hungry players. An era was emerging for Napoli as Diego had finally ended their long wait for the Scudetto in a season that also saw them claim the Italian Cup, reaping the fruits of adding strong players with enthusiasm to their squad.
I managed to get a first hand insight with my interactions on twitter with two passionate Italian Juventini who witnessed the Platini-Maradona rivalry during their playing days.
Michel is the greatest player of all time. Nothing more to say. Diego was the icing on the cake but Michel was the cake. I was 16-years-old when I went for his farewell match at the Communale with my father in Turin. My dad could not deny me to visit his farewell game. It was impossible. Nothing was and probably nothing will be as emotional for me when compared to the day of his retirement – @RenzoRavotti on twitter
Michel is the best player ever. An absolute myth. A symbol. So elegant. He was a gentleman on and off the pitch. Agnelli loved Michel and Michel always loved Juve back.
I suffered when he retired. I cried so much watching him on TV when he bid farewell. I was a kid when he played and he was my hero. I had his pictures in my room and it was very emotional – @romymora70 on twitter
I also managed to speak to one of the creators of SSCN America., who do a great deal of digital work for the Partenopei community.
What I’ve heard my dad say from time to time was that Platini vs Maradona then was like today’s Messi vs Ronaldo showdowns. You knew it was going to be a great contest and that whoever came out on top would be regarded as “best in the world”.
I specifically remember my father saying that if a game was tied and it was late in the match, it wouldn’t bother him because he knew Maradona would pop up at some point to seal the victory.
Diego stands for hope in a city that sees a lot of hardships. After a long working day to make ends meet, or after a long week, you could look forward to seeing one of the best to ever play the game you love, for the team that you love. And ultimately, that makes our people [my people] love him that much more. He brought lots of joy to a society that didn’t ever see much joy before in a sporting and daily life sense. – @danielrusso55 on twitter
Planned. Platini had thought to retire over the summer while isolating himself in France after the Heysel disaster. After a talk with the Juve leaders, he agreed to play on for another year. He was disinterested in football until the Intercontinental Cup triumph ‘revived him’.
“It’s not that I regarded myself as the best player in the world; I was the best player in the world. What else do you want me to say?! I was full of confidence in myself: I knew I could run the game, I knew I could score goals. 1986 was the turning point: Diego took over as the best, but not before then, not while he was at Napoli. By 1986 I was beginning to feel the strain; I played five games with an injury, limped through them and hoped nobody would notice. I was 32! The time was right. Above all else, I was tired” – Platini to FFT in 2008
Michel re-thought about retiring after the 1986 World Cup, in which he played with a groin problem. After a series of physical problems that included a nerve damage and a recurring knee problem, he finally called an end in 1987. He played his final competitive game dressed in Black and White stripes against Brescia in front of a packed 65,000 at Turin’s Communale Stadium. An emotional farewell that saw many fans in tears while Le Roi bid farewell to the beautiful game.
“He’s not only the greatest French player ever, one of the greatest players that Serie A has ever seen, some people would say perhaps the greatest player – certainly of that era – the guy who was getting best goalscorer every year – at a time when Maradona was playing in Italy for Christ’s sake – playing in midfield! It’s astounding! That was a good time! I was devastated when I heard he was not going to play anymore. I thought, he’s only 31, it’s not possible! But the knee had gone, he had no choice” – French journalist Philippe Auclair to French Football Weekly in 2013
Unplanned. Maradona’s influence on Napoli’s team was slowly reducing after the UEFA Cup triumph in 1989. After leading the Partenopei for the Scudetto in 1990, his career took a turn for the worse. His lifestyle of the pitch was becoming an issue for the club.
There’s a NEAPOLITAN phrase – A carta vicino ‘o fuoco s’appiccia – which literally means that paper close to a fire will inevitably go up in flames – The ie in 2017
Maradona was being fined by the club for missing training. On March 17 1991, he was found positive after they found traces of cocaine during drug testing for Napoli’s game against Bari. He was subsequently banned from football for 15-months and that put an end to his career at the club of his heart.
“The most important characters in mythology were (the Greek gods) Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo represented reason and Dionysus represented emotion. Those who knew Maradona understand that he was the worst of Apollo, but the best of Dionysus”. – Italian journalist Luciano de Crescenzo
By Arjun Pradeep @IndianRegista