This is the tale of two cities divided by football and united by tragedy. The story begins in emnity when United's Busby Babes face Santiago Bernebeu's Galacticos in the 1957 European Cup semi-final. United were a team made up of hand-reared British and Irish youngsters who had conquered British football with relative ease. They faced Madrid's reigning European Champions led by 'The Blond Arrow' Alfredo di Stefano. Inevitably United lost that tie over two legs but the pair seemed certain to be rivals for years before the Munich Air Disaster ripped apart Manchester's pride and joy. In the years that followed Real Madrid's president moved heaven and earth to help his club's former foes and a series of friendly matches were played to help United's languishing coffers as Real completed their now legendary 5 European Cup victories in a row from the inception of the tournament. Following the Mancunian side's recovery and rehabilitation, the clubs met once more and this time it was for real. United's aging side battled through to the 1968 European Cup semi-final to face the Madrilenos once more. Madrid, by now six times winners, looked certain to go through when they raced into a 3-2 aggregate lead in Spain before David Sadler and Munich survivor Bill Foulkes scored late goals to send United through to a date with destiny against Benfica in the Wembley final. This riveting footballing story featuring most of the greatest players of the fifties and sixties but most importantly two great rivals and friends: Madrid President Santiago Bernabeu and United manager Matt Busby. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NAPLES (Original version 2005)
Arriving like an angel descending from heaven, Diego
Armando Maradona made his dramatic entrance in Naples
by helicopter flying into a packed Sao Paolo stadium,
where 60,000 Neapolitans had gathered to welcome the
greatest footballer of all time into their midst.
Before Maradona there had been nothing, just a sad
history of underachievement. Many times SSC Napoli had
promised much, only to fall at the last, beaten by the
northern powers of Milan and Turin. Strange tales had
greeted every setback and conspiracy theories raged. It
was whispered that Napoli would never be allowed to win
the Italian Serie A.
Well, nobody bothered to inform Maradona! For seven
years he ignited Neapolitan passions and, on an
unforgettable Naples May afternoon in 1987, he led them
to the title. Across the city, fevered celebrations erupted...
but dark clouds loomed, for theirs was a King with a
crown of thorns.
With every wish there came a curse and Maradona’s
crazed off-field lifestyle meant it almost inevitable that the
story would end in tears. In the bars and clubs of
downtown Naples, where his night-time antics became the
stuff of legend, Maradona mixed with members of the
murderous Neapolitan Mafia, the Camorra. The gangs
embraced the Argentinian as one of their own, only to spit
him out with venom when it all went sour.
Once Upon A Time In Naples attempts to piece together
the events of a dramatic period in this troubled city’s
history, where, albeit for a short time only, SSC Napoli
ruled the roost. In a place where the devil would have
needed a bodyguard, a kid born in a Buenos Aires slum
brought heaven on earth to a people who lived only for
their football team. With a ball at his feet Maradona could
dance between the raindrops. It was a time like no other.
Welcome to Naples!
Oh no! Not another book about Diego Maradona, this
time about the seven incident-packed years he spent at
Naples, during which he led them to the Serie A title? Ho,
hum, you might think, as I did before embarking on the
first chapter, but I was soon engrossed. John Ludden has
created that rarity among the sporting genre: a genuine
page-turner which rates among the best sports books I've
read all year.
The book maintains a cracking pace throughout, with
Ludden frequently infusing his tale with religious
imagery, a constant, if unsubtle, reminder of the
diminutive midfielder's status among his newly-
discovered Neapolitan family. From the moment he
arrives in Naples by helicopter "like an angel descending
from heaven", Maradona came as close to a footballing
deity as any player ever has. Lovingly embraced at first
by all quarters of a city "where the devil would have
needed a bodyguard", once he casts out a pregnant
Cristina Sinagra, the locals begin to cast doubt on his true
character and his previously divine mask begins to slip.
But this is not an elongated tabloid romp. From the outset,
Ludden builds tension and excitement into each facet of
Maradona's complicated Neapolitan foray, including
Napoli's unlikely surge for the Scudetto, the Italian title.
In the early 1980s, Napoli's president of fourteen years,
Corrado Ferlaino, was under enormous pressure to inject
style, a presence, into his club which would finally allow
it to challenge Italian football's northern dominance. The
author's description of Naples as a dirty, poor, corrupt,
grudge-bearing metropolis where gangsters have ultimate
control has presumably not been sanctioned by the city's
tourist board. Yet this background is important to
Ludden's tale as it was, he suggests, crucial in convincing
Maradona, who hailed from a similar background, to
leave the sophistication of Barcelona for the toe of Italy.
Barcelona had bought the Argentine for $7.3m, but his
antics and cocaine-fuelled sessions with Spanish
prostitutes hastened his departure from the Nou Camp.
The enjoyable story of Maradona's transfer reads like a
fifteenth century dispute between Europe's city states. A
fee of $13m had been agreed between the two clubs when
Barcelona's president issued a further decree to one of his
emissaries, telling him "to make Naples bleed" by asking
for a further $600,000. Ferlaino didn't have the cash: the
money was collected from Naples' grateful poor in a day.
Maradona was understandably keen to move to Italy. The
$3m he earned at Barcelona had disappeared thanks to
his extravagant lifestyle, gambling, drugs and several
ridiculous commercial ventures. Signing for Naples
guaranteed him a $6m signing-on fee, although
throughout his stay, he was "a puppet dangling on a
While at Napoli, Maradona played perhaps the most
outstanding football of his blighted career, but a diet of
unremitting debauchery is not recommended for a
professional athlete. The drugs sustained Maradona for as
long as he could 'do the business' on the pitch; urine
samples were changed or officials were 'advised' by solid-
looking men in long overcoats that Maradona should not
be selected for post-match drugs testing.
The end came when Naples' powerbrokers had had
enough. Recognising that the club could save two years'
astronomic wages, in 1991, Maradona was 'allowed' to
finally fail a drugs test which resulted in his immediate
suspension. The game was up; he was no more than "a
lousy cokehead" and he knew it.
Ludden underpins the lurid tales with a magnificent (and
plausible) conspiracy theory, one which, no doubt,
contributed to the book's title, a take on Sergio Leone's
1984 film, One Upon A Time In America. On this
occasion, however, the mobsters win.
FIELDS OF FIRE (The Greatest Football Matches Ever)
"Fields of Fire" kicks off in war-torn Ukraine in 1942,
telling the tale of a Dynamo Kiev side forced into a series
of propaganda matches against their Nazi occupiers. They
are ordered to lose but repeatedly hammer the Germans
and are final
ly forced to pay a tragic forfeit - their lives. This terrible but factual tale is the first of many landmark games examined in John Ludden's collection of milestone matches in football history. The tales are laced with wonderful characters - some good, some bad, some downright scandalous: the cherry-red shirts of Hungary romping through the 1950s; a tubby little genius called Puskas; Di Stefano and his wizards from Madrid; Busby and his tragic, but brilliant babes; and the villainous Argentine Rattin at Wembley. Moving into the 1970s, Ludden examines Pele and his glorious team exploding in Technicolor; German glory in 1974; Argentine skulduggery in 1978; in the 1980s we revisit the France- Germany World Cup semi-final and the infamous arrival of Diego Armando Maradona. Onto the 1990s and Gazza's famous tears in Turin and the tragic shooting of Columbian Escobar.
LOS PARTIDOS DEL SIGLO
(Spanish version of Fields of Fire)
T & B editors have edited a wonderful work of art in
which are collected some of the best games of the century.
There are games that fill pages of history, they do mourn,
laugh and who stay in our memories forever. Some have
been lucky enough to experience them, others have heard
about them but both the former and the latter for sure they
had no details, those aspects that make history a living
egend of the sport. That is why T & B editors has now released a great and complete work called " The parties of the century ", in which he makes a wonderful tour of some of the games that have come to Olympus, either by heroic victories and dramatic or by actions of the big stars that were embedded in them. Men from the likes of Maradona, Puskas, Pele, Di Stefano or Bubsy appear in this work of T & B editors in leftover deeds and remembrance parties glorious collected from the Barça-Madrid from 1960 to meetings between teams from the likes of Italy-Brazil, 1982, 1968 Argentina- England-Italy or Argentina 1990. Maybe some of the games we see in this World Cup in South Africa has the honor someday appear in a book of the size of the " century parties , "a play that begins with the story of an encounter that never knew if never held but realata an incredible story of overcoming and courage in the time of Nazi Germany. Explain the play written by John Ludden that back in
1942 Nazi soldiers forced the Dynamo Kiev players who
were retained to participate in a friendly soccer match
under the following slogan: " If you win, you die . " That
is, to preserve life Ukrainian footballers should be outdone
by the Nazis so that they could boast of the Aryan race.
However, despite physical weakness in which they were,
decided to fight these players to win a game that,
ultimately, their lives would end .
Reality or not, there's no better way to open a book
majestic , worth reading and consulting up bored and can
be purchased online and at a modest price .
A law unto himself and a god to millions of football
supporters across the world. Maradona's European
adventures took in two seasons at Barcelona, seven in
Naples and one in Seville.
LA AVENTURA DE MARADONA EN EUROPA (Maradona's Adventure In Europe) A law unto himself and a god to millions of football supporters across the world. Maradona's European adventures took in two seasons at Barcelona, seven in Naples and one in Seville.
All three crammed enough drama, controversy, intrigue
nd moments of footballing genius to fulfil a lifetime of memories. He was no angel or saint, but then neither was he a demon. Simply the greatest footballer ever to play the game. At Barcelona Maradona was cut down by serious injuries and illness, only occasionally did the god given talent shine through. But when it did! Sadly it was not to be long term, just a constant two year battle against a President and Catalan attitudes that viewed him merely as a street kid punk whom got lucky with a gift. Hardly a marriage in heaven but a torrid love affair that at times reached the stars but fell far too often down to earth. Then came Naples! The treasure of San Gennaro, Neapolitans worshipped this Argentine wonder boy who arrived like an angel from the sky in a helicopter at the San Paolo and for seven glorious though hugely controversial years made all their wildest dreams real. A king with a crown of thorns whose night time antics were sufficient to make even the Borgias blush. But when in the light blue of Napoli Maradona made the ball sing. Encore. In Naples despite a horrific finale they would love him forever more. Seville: a tragic epitaph as the realisation finally dawned on Diego Maradona that despite being told since the age of ten that he was a god, he was in fact human after all. That no one lived forever. Fighting constantly a cocaine addiction that ticked away like a time bomb to finish him off Maradona's European adventures ended in misery and acrimony in the gypsy city. But what a journey! An outrageous but unforgettable tale of football, gangsters, drugs, corruption, booze, women and without doubt the greatest player the world has ever seen. Loved and loathed, adored and hated, but there was only ever one Diego Armando Maradona.
MARADONA: THE MYTH UNDER THE VOLCANO (Italian version of Once upon a time in Naples)
History or record, press report or narrative text, the work
of John Ludden guides us along the parabola, or semi-
serious semicomica, perhaps better semitragica of Diego
Armando Maradona in Naples, after her arrival, she saw
him hailed as a
... hero, savior of an entire city, up to the final debacle, inglorious and painful. As always sore point is the city of Naples, loved and hated vehemently, almost calmed only by the vicissitudes of his football team. An ancient metropolis, full of old evils and deep scars, oppressed by fate which sometimes takes the form of a devastating earthquake or a violent eruption of Vesuvius or creeps in the dark alleys where good people, honest Neapolitans have to live, for too long, with a Camorra increasingly ruthless, able to pollute everything and throw shadows dire also on the parable of Maradona, the only one who has been able to do but to aspire to the Neapolitans! AUTHOR John Ludden , well-known journalist and sports writer, was born in Manchester, where he lives with his wife Christine and little Matthew, as he diehard fans of Manchester United and Napoli. He is the author of numerous books on football, of which the first Fields of Fire: The Greatest Football Matches ever is 2001. In 2005, he appeared in English in this volume, with the title of Once upon a Time in Naples , recently published in Spanish, for the types of T & B Editors, under the title La Aventura de Maradona en Europe . The latter will soon be seen in England a rewrite in the form of documentary, TRANSLATION curated by Maria Rosaria Bucci Cocco.