Gonzalo Higuaín was centre of much of the attention on Sunday as Juventus travelled to the San Paolo stadium in Naples for a first against third Serie A clash. It was no secret that the Napoli fans would have a fiery welcome ready for their ex-hero, who left last summer for rivals Juventus, but as well as boos, whistles and raspberries, there was something else in store for the Argentine's return.
Enigmatic number 71 from Napoli fans
The curious alternative to the abuse directed towards the striker was fans holding up signs with the number "71" on them. What did this mean? One explanation was simple and read: "You used to be our number 1, now your number 71."
But could the number carry a deeper significance many were asking, including Italian Football TV on Twitter. It couldn't be referring to the transfer value, that was 90 million euros. Could it be alluding to the 71 goals that Higuaín scored during his 104 games while at Napoli? That seems to align neatly but surely far too complimentary for an occasion like this and with the bitter feeling still running deep with the tifosi.
What's with the Higuain, 71 signs at the San Paolo tonight? pic.twitter.com/8CtYDaMXfk— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) 2 de abril de 2017
Higuaín: "you're full of shit"
No. The solution appears to have been revealed by the paper La Republica which states that the number 71 means "a man full of shit" according to the Smorfia Napolitana, a dream interpretor, which is also used for predicting the lottery in Italy.
One other interesting fact in this whole 71 story is that it was exactly in that minute when Higuaín scored for Juventus in the league game earlier in the season when Napoli lost 2-1. That was when someone pointed out the strange meaning.
Could cryptic abuse be the new way forward for fans?