When the whistle sounded to signal the end of the game, fans from Napoli all ran to the ground. A smile appeared on the face of Kim Min-jae (27, Naples). He shared the joy with the fans around him. It was a meaningful day that could not be replaced with anything for Napoli and Kim Min-jae, who won the league title in 33 years.
Napoli drew 1-1 in the 2022-2023 Italian Serie A round 33 match against Udinese held at Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy on the 5th. Napoli, who secured 80 points with 5 games left until the end of the league, beat second place Lazio (64 points) by 16 points and confirmed the league championship regardless of the results of the remaining games. It is the team’s third all-time victory and the first championship in 33 years since the 1989-1990 season when Diego Maradona played.
Kim Min-jae, who moved to Naples ahead of this season, also enjoyed the joy of winning the first year of the transfer. It is the first time in 12 years since Park Ji-sung, who played for Manchester United (England) in the 2010-2011 season, that a Korean player won the championship while playing as a main player in the five major European leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France). First as a defender. In 2018-2019, Bayern Munich, where Jung Woo-young was, won the German Bundesliga championship, but at that time, Jung Woo-young played only 3 minutes as a substitute in one game. As soon as he transferred, Kim Min-jae experienced a league championship that even Son Heung-min (Tottenham), the symbol of Korean football, could not achieve.
Italy has very different sentiments between regions. In particular, the conflict between the rich North and the poor South is serious. Naples, the central city of the south, sometimes suffers severe insults when they go on an expedition to the north. I’ve even heard the term ‘Italian sewers’. This is also why the citizens of Naples regard Maradona, who won the championship, like Jesus. Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said after the victory was confirmed, “Napoli fans are the ones who watched Maradona’s game. Maradona’s protection made this result.”
Napoli, which was third last season, left one of Europe’s best central defenders, Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), after the season, leaving a huge gap in the defense. It was difficult for Naples fans to trust Min-jae Kim 100%, even if he had sufficiently proved his skills at Fenerbahce (Turkey).
Kim Min-jae turned his doubts into admiration within a month. He was the first Asian player to be selected as the Serie A ‘Player of the Month’ as he performed tremendously from the beginning. Napoli president Aurelio DeLaurentis recalled after the championship was confirmed, “People thought I was joking when I said I was going to recruit a Georgian (Hvica Kvarachhelia) and a Korean.”메이저사이트
Kim Min-jae, who was on a winning streak, also had trials. After the A match against Uruguay in March, he suddenly said, “Soccer is difficult and the body is also difficult. For the time being, I want to focus only on my team,” causing controversy. As rumors of his retirement from the national team spread, he had to explain, and after that, rumors of a discord with Son Heung-min led to a mentally shaken situation. In the meantime, Napoli lost 0-4 to AC Milan and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
However, Kim Min-jae came back to life by leading the team to a 1-0 victory at Juventus on the 24th of last month. In the end, he played an active role as the nucleus of the team’s defense until this championship match.
After the victory was confirmed, hundreds of thousands of citizens flocked to downtown Naples to set off firecrackers and enjoy the joy. Kim Min-jae said through social network service (SNS), “We are Italian champions. I am happy to be a part of this historic moment.” British public broadcaster BBC said, “Napoli has enjoyed the glory of winning again since the days when Maradona walked through that narrow alley. They are preparing another huge party on June 4, the last day of the season.”