Napoli FC is one of the oldest and most storied clubs in Italian football. Founded in 1926, the club has had an illustrious history, filled with iconic players, unforgettable moments, and championship titles. Throughout the years, Napoli FC has evolved significantly, adapting to the changing times and trends in the sport while remaining true to its core values. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of Napoli FC, tracing its evolution from its founding to the present day, and highlighting the key milestones and personalities that have shaped its success.
Napoli Football Club was founded on 1 August 1926 by a group of local sports enthusiasts, led by Giorgio Ascarelli. At the time, the team played their home games at the San Paolo Stadium. In the club's first decade, they were known as "Azzurri", meaning "The Blues" in Italian.
During this period, Napoli saw some success in the Italian Championship, reaching the semi-finals twice in 1934 and 1937. They also competed in the Coppa Italia, reaching the semi-finals in 1938 and 1939. Despite their successes, they were unable to capture any major titles.
It wasn't until 1949 that Napoli finally tasted glory. After winning their first promotion to Serie A, they went on to win the 1950 Coppa Italia and reach the final of the 1951 Mitropa Cup.
The 1950s saw a lot of highs and lows for Napoli. They reached the Coppa Italia finals three times during this decade but lost each time. On a brighter note, they won their first league title in 1959-60 and qualified for their first European competition – the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
The 1960s saw an upswing for Napoli. In 1965-66, they won their second league title and reached the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup the following year. Unfortunately, their form fell away after this and they only managed one more league title in 1968-69 before slipping into mid-table mediocrity.
The 1970s saw Napoli's fortunes take a dramatic turn for the worse as they were relegated from Serie A in 1972. This marked the end of the club's early years and the start of a new era.
The first golden era for Napoli Football Club began in the early 1970s when the team was purchased by Corrado Ferlaino. This new ownership marked the beginning of a period of unprecedented success for the club, as Ferlaino invested heavily in acquiring new talent and building a world-class squad.
The first major success came in 1976 when Napoli won the Coppa Italia. This was followed by a Serie A title in 1986-87, becoming the first team from southern Italy to win the Scudetto. It was also the first Serie A title for Napoli, ending a 46-year wait since their formation.
During this period, some of the greatest players to ever don a Napoli jersey took the field. The list of stars included iconic players such as Diego Maradona, Careca, Bruno Giordano, and Ciro Ferrara. Maradona was particularly instrumental in leading Napoli to their Scudetto, scoring 15 goals and earning numerous individual awards for his performances.
This era of Napoli’s history saw them reach the height of their international reputation, with the club becoming one of the biggest names in European football. They also reached two UEFA Cup finals during this period, although both ended in defeat.
Overall, this golden era of Napoli football will always be remembered fondly by its supporters. It is during this time that they cemented their place in Italian football history, winning their first Serie A title and launching some of the greatest players of all time.
The 1986–87 season saw Napoli relegated from Serie A, ending their golden era and beginning a difficult period in their history. During the 1990s, the club went through a series of managerial changes, resulting in mixed results. After managing to stay in Serie A for five consecutive seasons, Napoli was relegated again in 1996–97.
After a brief return to Serie A in 1998–99, Napoli was once again relegated in 2000–01. The club struggled to regain its former glory during this period, and financial issues threatened to cripple the team. In 2002, Aurelio De Laurentiis took over as chairman of Napoli and immediately began restructuring the organization.
De Laurentiis secured a deal with UEFA for a voluntary debt-restructuring program, which provided significant financial relief for the team. He also hired Giovanni Vavassori as technical director and made considerable investments in the transfer market. These moves helped Napoli qualify for Serie A in 2004–05, ushering in a new era of success.
Since 2004, Napoli has experienced a second golden era of success and solidified its place as one of Italy’s top teams. In this period, the team’s fortunes have been shaped by the guidance of influential figures such as presidents Aurelio De Laurentiis, Gennaro Gattuso, and Carlo Ancelotti.
In 2011, after nearly two decades of turmoil, Napoli was purchased by film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis and began a steady climb up the Italian football ladder. The club qualified for Europe for the first time in nine years and won the Coppa Italia in 2012 and 2014. They also returned to the Champions League in 2013 after finishing second in the league that season.
Under manager Gennaro Gattuso, the club finished second in the 2019–20 Serie A and qualified for the Champions League again. The team also reached the last 16 of the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League, before being eliminated by eventual champions Villarreal CF.
In June 2021, Carlo Ancelotti was appointed manager and tasked with taking Napoli back to the heights of the first golden era. Since his arrival, the club has won its sixth Coppa Italia and reached the semi-finals of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League. The future looks bright for Napoli and its fans will be hoping that this new era of success will continue.
Throughout its history, Napoli FC has had many great players, managers, and personnel that have shaped the club into what it is today. Here are some of the key figures in Napoli's history that have helped to make it the successful club it is.
Diego Maradona: The most famous figure in Napoli's history is undoubtedly Diego Maradona, who joined the club from Barcelona in 1984. He made an immediate impact in his first season, leading the team to its first-ever Serie A title, and then a second title the following year. Maradona's time at Napoli is remembered fondly by fans to this day.
Aurelio De Laurentiis: Current owner Aurelio De Laurentiis took over as president of Napoli in 2004, and has been instrumental in restoring the club's fortunes. Under his ownership, Napoli won their third Serie A title in 2020 and qualified for the Champions League twice.
Rafa Benitez: Manager Rafa Benitez led Napoli to their third Serie A title in 2013-14, and qualified for the Champions League the following two seasons. He also famously guided them to the 2014-15 Champions League knockout stages for the first time in their history.
Gonzalo Higuain: Striker Gonzalo Higuain joined Napoli from Real Madrid in 2013 and had an immediate impact, scoring a record 36 goals in the 2015-16 season. He also scored crucial goals in the 2017-18 season that helped Napoli qualify for the Champions League.
Caretaker Managers: As a result of some instability at the top, Napoli has employed several caretaker managers throughout their history. These include current manager Gennaro Gattuso, who was appointed in 2019, as well as Walter Mazzarri and Roberto Donadoni. All of them have made a significant contribution to the club's success.