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Bagni: "Madrid insulted and threatened us, calling us mafia"

“Il Guerriero” reflected back over the 1987 tie between Napoli and Real Madrid. "Maradona kept saying to us: let's go for them, let's batter them!"

Bagni en la eliminatoria contra el Real Madrid.

Bad-tempered tie

Former Napoli midfielder Salvatore Bagni, Il Guerriero (the Warrior) as he was known then, spoke to Napolitan local newspaper ‘Il Mattino’ about the battle which the Azzurri were involved in with Real Madrid in the 1987 meeting at the First Round of the European Cup - the only time the two clubs have met in official competition: "Diego [Maradona] kept saying to us 'come on, let's go for them, let's go and batter them!', but I was too busy replying to Madrid's players who called us 'mafia' all the way through the game, and returning the punches and digs Michel and [Martin] Vázquez were gave me back near the changing rooms. I thought to myself: how sad, they're the top seeds but we'll knock them out at the first hurdle for their arrogance".

Diego Maradona captained Napoli against Real Madrid in the game on September 16th 1987.
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Diego Maradona captained Napoli against Real Madrid in the game on September 16th 1987.DIARIO AS

Run for their money

Madrid ended as losers

We won the moral battle. This was Real Madrid, one of the top sides in Europe and the world. We were just lttle Napoli, Italian champions for the first time, who gave them a surprise, had them up against the ropes, they were at our mercy for a large period of the game.

Madrid advance to the quarter finals

Only through sheer luck - literally. Butragueño blocked a Careca with his backside and that's when our comeback came to an end. Shortly after that he scored and they went through.

What went through your mind when Napoli were drawn against Madrid?

It was just before our summer stage, nobody wanted to be drawn against us. It was a battle between men, the Bernabéu wa completely empty*, but it wouldn't have been any different if there were 100,000 in the stands.

Michel scores from penalty spot
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Michel scores from penalty spotDIARIO AS

Pitched battle

In the changing rooms they insulted us, threatened us. Michel squared up to me, that's when it all kicked off. Castellini threw a bag of ice which struck [Madrid coach Leo] Beenhakker, and I wasn't just stood there watching it all... There was another fight at the end of the game.

Napoli's hopes of progressing ended in the return at San Paolo

Yes, but for 35 minutes we had a star-studded team on the back foot. Out on the pitch, they were nowhere to be seen: we were impecable - it was one of my best memories of my time at Napoli.

Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker later said playing behind closed doors was "horrible"
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Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker later said playing behind closed doors was "horrible"DIARIO AS


Were there any punches thrown at San Paolo?

Of course, these are football matches for men, not boys. I think I must have given Michel and [Martin] Vázquez nightmares for a few years after that.

Did you ever cross paths with them again?

Yes, I saw Michel, and he said to me: 'Mamma mia, you were really nasty with me!'. But I wasn't, I only wanted my team to go through to the next round.

It must hurt to be eliminated in the First Round?

I always thought that, it we had played with the current format, with the group stage, we would have gone far in the competition. The first game came too early for us, we'd only played one league game, we weren't up to full fitness.

Maradona, as an ex-Barça player, took that defeat badly

Like we all did and the people in Naples, who dreamed of us advancing. Thirty years on, I still think we deserved to go through.

*The first leg at the Bernabéu was held behind closed doors because of a two-match stadium ban imposed by UEFA for missiles hurled onto the pitch in the previous edition of the competition. The ban was later reduced to one match after Madrid appealed.


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