By Mazi Jaka
Lorenzo Insigne admits he wanted to stay at Napoli ‘for life’ and does not feel ‘jealous’ of missing out on the Scudetto, but warns Victor Osimhen to ‘think carefully’ before leaving.
The native Neapolitan supported the Partenopei since the moment of his birth and made the dream come true when representing his hometown club as captain, but never got to lift the Serie A trophy.
That only happened last summer, after he had already left for a new experience at Toronto FC.
“My dream was to stay at Napoli for life. That is not what happened, but I always carry Napoli in my heart, it is my home. I wanted to stay for longer, but it went the way it went,” Insigne told Sky Sport Italia.
He could be forgiven for feeling that he missed out on the title, but insists he celebrated wildly with his kids in Toronto.
“We went crazy at home, because I knew how much it meant to the players and above all the whole city of Naples. Some thought I was jealous, but I never will be, because I was and always will be the biggest fan of Napoli.”
Now Walter Mazzarri has returned to the Stadio Maradona as coach after a 10-year absence, replacing Rudi Garcia following Luciano Spalletti’s decision to walk away.
“Zdenek Zeman was like a father for me early on. Mazzarri gave me my Serie A debut and believed in me, so I owe him a great deal. Maurizio Sarri helped make me the Insigne I am today. Carlo Ancelotti taught what professionalism is really about, while Gennaro Gattuso allowed me to rediscover my confidence when I had lost my way.
“Spalletti, despite the fact my contract was running down, always relied on me and I will forever be grateful.”
Insigne was back in Naples at the weekend and sat in the stands behind President Aurelio De Laurentiis to watch the 3-0 Serie A defeat to Inter.
“I feel closer to home even when I land in Rome, even if there is still a long way to go. I miss everything about Naples, it is my home. But my family and I are happy in Toronto. My wife asked what it was like being in the stadium. As a child, I dreamed of doing what I did with the Napoli jersey: play and be captain. So being at the Maradona will always be special.”
Considering his own experience in MLS, Insigne feels that he has advice for Osimhen, who has been reportedly tempted by huge offers from the Premier League and Saudi Arabia.
“I would tell him to think carefully before leaving Napoli, because the emotional response you get here cannot be found elsewhere. The Scudetto is different in Naples compared to other clubs.
“He will make the best decision for himself. I hope that he will remain at Napoli for a long time, and if the club has to make an extra effort on the contract, it is worth it, because there are few strikers as talented as he is.”
Italy have qualified for the EURO 2024 tournament, but Insigne seems to have dropped off the radar after his disappointing form at Toronto FC.
“I will never stop dreaming of the Nazionale. As long as I play football, I am available. Winning the Euros was an indescribable moment and hopefully I can start strong next season, without the injuries that have affected the choices of the coach. I realise at the age of 32 that I must give more, because just having a name is not enough to be called up.”