1) To perform regularly in front of one of the most passionate fan bases in world football.
2) To forever be living in the shadow of Naples god Diego Maradona
3) To be robbed of your valuables at gunpoint.
The pressure of playing for such a high profile club is similar to the feelings produced when a jar of ‘Marmite’ is thrust in front of you. You either love it, thus embarking on a passionate life long relationship with the spread, or hate it to such an extent that you are violently sick at the sheer sight of it. There are varying examples of Napoli players that would fall under different headings in that particular analogy but, playing for the Italian giants undoubtedly tests a player’s love for the club.
Dealing with armed robberies are becoming a mandatory element of the ‘job description’ when signing a contract at Napoli. Marek Hamsik is the latest player to be targeted in such a raid. The club captain was making his way to Naples airport, following the 0-0 draw with Sampdoria on Sunday, when his exit was blocked by three masked men. The textbook thieves smashed the window of Hamsik’s car, waved a gun in the midfielders face and demanded that he handed over his Rolex watch. The 25 year old tensed his sphincter muscles and duly handed over his time piece, before alerting the police.
Speaking to Italian media Hamsik said, "It wasn't too serious but it's the third time something like this has happened to me." In 2009 Hamsik’s wife was also robbed, along with several of the club’s top players.
Valon Behrami, formerly of West Ham, was the victim of two armed men on a scooter last December, when his assailants sped away with a £5,000 watch. Team-mate Salvatore Aronica was also targeted in Naples last year along with Esquiel Lavezzi’s wife and golden boy Edinson Cavani. Although a number of items taken from Cavani’s flat were later recovered after underworld bosses sent out a ‘request’ for them to be returned.
In a less happy ending the wife of Argentine Lavezzi was said to be so traumatised by the robbery that is was one of the main reasons for the winger choosing to leave the club to join PSG in the summer.
The morale of this story is that if you sign for Napoli why buy a Rolex when a cheap and perfectly functional Casio one will do?
image: © vincentteeuwen