Maradona and Naples created an unearthly and sometimes dark magic. I was there | Ed Vulliamy

A new documentary about the footballer’s life doesn’t capture the way an underdog city both beatified and ensnared its favourite son

Sundays would begin and end at a bar called Bollicine – bubbles – behind Piazza Leopardi station in the Fuorigrotta quarter of Naples. It was kept by a man called Enzo Cosenza, who also led choreography and singing in the city’s football stadium. That’s where we spent the time in between, across the span of two years with season tickets, watching Diego Maradona defy the laws of gravity and physics with a football.

I was working in Rome, but commuting from Naples for romantic reasons, and I soon fell in love with Maradona as well. Ahead of Asif Kapadia’s much-anticipated documentary on the Maradona phenomenon, released next week, the talk is once again about Diego. The film turns the pages of a marvellous scrapbook, but doesn’t convey how Maradona and Naples shared a common heartbeat and soul. To understand Maradona in those days was to understand Naples, and vice versa: the same unearthly magic, the same brilliant light, the same maleficient shadows.

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