It was autumn 1988, exactly 34 years ago today, when the late Diego Maradona’s Napoli came to Thessaloniki to face PAOK in the UEFA Cup.
In the legendary grass You tumblewhich has completed 63 years of life, “painted” players and players.
Kouiroukidis, Leandros, Papadakis, Yentzis, Koudas, Sarafis, Paridis, Iosifidis, Zagorakis, Garcia, Vieirinia. Entire generations.
They passed the threshold of the legends of the ball, o CruyffThe MaradonaThe Rummenigge and dozens of others, all of them bowed to her majesty.
For her dynamics You tumble much has been written, dithyrambs have been spoken, it has been honored by rivals, its value remains timeless, but you have to live it up close to know it well.
Toumba got the “award” she deserved from the huge one Diego Armando Maradona.
Today’s 50-year-olds will thank God that they deserved and saw him enchant with the round goddess on the grass of Toumba. On the evening of October 6, 1988, Naples of Maradona she was there to face him PAOK in the framework of its 1st round UEFA Cup.
Thessaloniki, on the day of the match, was dressed from end to end in black and white. Everywhere you turned you saw people of all ages in scarves, with flags, with kerchiefs impatiently taking walks in the center, on the beach, in the streets around the stadium, everywhere!
In “Macedonia Pallas” o Diego Maradona would add his name among the stars of politics, art and sports, from Mikhail Gorbachev up to and including Catherine Deneuvewho have stayed at the historic five-star hotel in Thessaloniki.
The stadium was shaking. Over 45,000 people piled into its concrete that unforgettable night. A pin didn’t drop. The stadium was filled almost three hours before the kick-off. And when we say stuffed to the brim, we mean it…
That night, 39,848 tickets were sold, in a corner of gate 7 there were about 200 Italian fans, who with their cameras immortalized the black and white sea of people in the stands and the show, which PAOK PAOK had prepared, with cheerleaders and a man on horseback giving pace cutting walks around the tartan!
THE Giannis Diakogiannis from her microphone ERTstarted the broadcast with the question “there are over 45,000 in the stands, now how they got in and how they left no one knows…”.
Thousands of people, piled on top of each other, wanted to be a part of history, while the 1-0 first leg gave some hopes of qualification. However, it is customary in Toumba, where “festival and celebration”, the landing is… bumpy.
A magical pass of his arrived Maradona on the back of PAOK’s defense for the Brazilian to turn it into a goal Kareka and put an end to the dreams of the PAOK team early on, just in the 17th minute. The “Two-Headed” pressed, proof of the 21 corners he won, he was much better than the Italian team, but all he managed was to equalize at 1-1, with his header Giorgos Skartadou.
The compositions of the two teams:
PAOK (Israel): Gitsioudis, Karageorgiou, Mavreas, Mitoglou, Malioufas, Lagonidis (62′ Tsourelas), Borbokis, Skartados, Karasavvidis (46′ Small), Fernando, Alexandridis.
Napoli (Bianchi): Giuliani, Ferrara, Franchini, Corandini, Alemao, Renica, Kripa, De Napoli (46′ Caranante), Careca, Maradona, Fuzzi.
The Italians are speechless, although learned from their own “hot” seat, the “San Paolo”, they rubbed their eyes. So do journalists.
That’s why her reporter RAI after the match ended (1-1) he asked Diego about the atmosphere he had experienced. And he bowed to the majesty of Toumba:
“I’ve played a lot of games, but I’ve never seen anything like this…”!
Watch the related video: