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Stadiums named in honour of footballers

Around the world, many stadiums are named after football legends

Stadiums named in honour of footballers Around the world, many stadiums are named after football legends

The stadium is the home of the fans. A gathering place where they share joys and sorrows, where they cheer for their favourites, sing and express all the passion they feel for football or any other sport. A meeting point, then, but not only. The stadiums are also the stage on which champions show off their qualities, delight the fans with breathtaking plays and make the fans' eyes sparkle. And there are those who become so inextricably linked to a club and the people who support it that, over the years, they come to have the stadium of the team whose colours they have defended named after them. 

Around the world, and especially in Italy, there are in fact many facilities named after club legends and flags. A way of paying homage to those who are no longer with us, but who have written the history of one or another team, but there are also those who are still alive and can enjoy the sight of a stadium dedicated to them. 

Napoli and Maradona

From the moment of Diego Armando Maradona's death in November 2020, Naples, as a city and municipality, immediately moved to name the stadium after the Pibe de Oro, obtaining the resolution in no time. Since then, the Fuorigrotta facility has gone from being called San Paolo, in honour of the Saint Paul of Tarsus who, according to the chronicles of history, arrived in Italy in '61 A.D. by docking at the port of Pozzuoli, of whose diocese the western districts of Naples, including the area of the current stadium, are part, to being named after the man who made the club's history.

'Maradona has embodied the symbol of redemption of a team to which, in the darkest years, he has shown that it is possible to rise up, win and triumph, while offering a message of hope and beauty to the entire city because, through the Argentinean star's football victories, it was not just the Napoli team that won, but the entire city that fully identifies with him,' reads the Municipality's resolution confirming the naming of the stadium after Maradona

Giuseppe Meazza in Milan

Flag-bearer of Inter and the national team, who also wore the Milan shirt for a few years, Giuseppe Meazza is the man after whom the San Siro Stadium was named in 1980, the year of his death. Between the end of the 1920s and the 1940s, the Milan-born striker won three Scudetti in the Nerazzurri and the first two World Cups in the history of Italy; that of '34 and '38. 

The Johann Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam 

The Amsterdam Arena is named after one of the men who revolutionised the world of football. The Ajax stadium is in fact a tribute to Johann Cruyff, a legend of the Lancers and of Dutch and world football. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner in the 1970s passed away in 2016, but the Amsterdam stadium was named after him a good two years later. The announcement about the decision to dedicate the facility to him came in 2017, but due to bureaucratic issues the official naming of Johann Cruyff Arena was postponed until the start of the 2018 season. 

The Puskas Arena in Budapest 

In the wake of football legends, there is also a stadium named after a world icon in Budapest. It is the Puskas Arena, the venue where the Hungarian national team plays its matches. In 2002, when the Hungarian flag was still flying, the Népstadion was dedicated to him. In 2017 it was demolished and the new, ultra-modern stadium was named Puskas Arena. A curiosity about the facility. On 15 June 2020 it hosted the Euro 2020 match between Hungary and Portugal, becoming the first 100 per cent capacity facility after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Angers and the homage to Kopa


Raymond Köpa was, in 1958, the first French footballer to win the Golden Ball. His career began at Angers, which in 2017, the year of his death, decided to dedicate the name of its stadium to him. Since 1968, it had been named after Jean Bouin, a historic French middle-distance runner. The stadium is one of the oldest in France, having been built in 1912

The other Maradona Stadium in Argentina 


Not only Napoli's stadium was named after Maradona, but also that of the team in which the Pibe de Oro made his professional debut: Argentinos Juniors. Located in Buenos Aires, in the Villa General Mitre district, it was built in 1940 under the name Estadio Argentinos Juniors, after the club's then owner. In 2003 it was rebuilt and the following year, on the occasion of the club's centenary, it was named after Diego Armando Maradona. Also particular is the presence of a tunnel leading to the pitch that has as its 'exit' the bust of D10S in the act of exulting after a goal. 

The Estadio Kempes in Cordoba

Mario Alberto Kempes was another legendary Argentinean footballer. In 1978 he led Argentina to victory in the World Cup, becoming both the top scorer and the best striker in that event. It was built in Cordoba precisely for that edition of the World Cup under the original name Estadio Olimpico. In 2010 it was then named after the Seleccion's flag bearer Mario Kempes

Stadiums dedicated to Pelé and Garrincha in Brazil


A small stadium is named after one of the greatest in football history, Pelé. The Estadio Rei Pelé in Maceio and Alagoas, a small-scale facility that seats less than 20,000 fans and hosts local matches of the Clube de Regatas and Alagoano

Much more impressive, however, is the facility dedicated to another Greenoro legend: Garrincha, winner of two World Cups with Brazil. The Mané Garrincha National Stadium was built in 1974 and then partially demolished in 2010. In that year, a renovation project began in view of the 2014 World Cup, which brought the facility to its current capacity of 70,000 spectators.

The other Italian stadiums


Not only the Maradona and the Meazza, in Italy there is a long tradition of stadiums named after footballers. In Genoa, the Marassi stadium was dedicated to Luigi Ferraris; the historic former captain of Genoa and one of the faces of the very first championships in our country. The facility was built in the 1910s, before being renovated in 1932 and later named after Ferraris who died during the First World War. 

Various stadiums around the Peninsula are then dedicated to the heroes of the Grande Torino, who tragically died in the Superga tragedy. From Romeo Menti in Vicenza and Castellammare di Stabia, teams in which the Italian forward had played, to Brescia's Mario Rigamonti, the club in which the defender had begun his career. The Pro Vercelli stadium is named after Silvio Piola, Serie A's all-time leading goalscorer. La Spezia's Alberto Picco is a tribute to the former footballer, captain, founder and advisor of the club who also died during the First World War. 

Empoli named its stadium after Carlo Castellani, the club's bomber until 2011 and who died in 1944 during World War II when he died in a concentration camp after turning himself in to the fascist regime in place of his elderly father, who was believed to be among those responsible for the mass strikes in local industries. Perugia's Renato Curi stadium is a memorial to the Umbrian team's young footballer who died on the pitch on 30 October 1977 during the match against Juventus due to cardiac arrest. 

Stadiums named after footballers still alive


Around the world there are also stadiums named after footballers (and former ones) who are still alive and can enjoy a facility dedicated to them. This is the case of Bacary Sagna, the former French full-back who in Sens, the Burgundy Franche-Comté town where he was born, had his pitch named after one of the small town's most prominent personalities. The same happened to Fernando Torres to whom the stadium of Fuenlabrada, a Spanish third division team and Nino's hometown, was dedicated. The Stade Didier Drogba is the stadium in which Levallois FC in France plays, the team in which the Ivorian striker first kicked a ball, and where a beautiful plaque in his honour has been put up outside the stadium.