Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer star who has led Napoli to two Italian League soccer titles, said Wednesday that he wants to leave Italy.
“I have no other choice,” he wrote in a column carrying his byline in the daily newspaper Il Roma.
Maradona, 30, has been embroiled in several controversies this year. He was benched for last Sunday’s game against Atalanta in Bergamo after skipping practice several times. He described the decision by Napoli Coach Alberto Bigon as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I still don’t know if Bigon will include me in the lineup for Sunday’s match against Lazio,” Maradona wrote. “He probably prefers to field those who train six days a week, but who have not given Napoli what I have given so far.”
Maradona, who came to Napoli in 1984 from Barcelona of Spain for a then-record $10 million transfer fee, last year reported one month late to the team’s preseason training camp.
In November, he initially refused to travel to the Soviet Union for a second-round European Champions Cup game, but, after fan protests and a club-threatened suspension, flew to Moscow by private plane.
Napoli sued Maradona earlier this month, saying his recent behavior had damaged the club’s image.
Meanwhile, the Vatican daily newspaper l’Osservatore Romano, in a rare commentary on sports figures, criticized Maradona’s recent behavior.
Under the headline “The Sunset of a Star,” the paper wrote: “Maradona has not understood that humility and discretion in the private life of a champion are as important as scoring a beautiful goal. . . . In soccer, intelligent players count less than ill-bred stars.”