Ahead of the semi-final decider, Marek Hamšík tells UEFA.com how SSC Napoli have been spurred on by their 12th man and about Rafael Benítez's quest for a third tournament win.
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SSC Napoli travel to Ukraine seeking to reach their first European final since Diego Maradona reigned supreme in 1989. The Naples icon led the way on that occasion in the UEFA Cup, while another Argentinian – Gonzalo Higuaín – is inspiring Rafael Benítez's charges this season in the UEFA Europa League.
Former ŠK Slovan Bratislava and Brescia Calcio attacking midfielder Marek Hamšík has also contributed to the Napoli cause this term, scoring four goal in 11 European outings. Already a Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup winner under Benítez, the No17 now hopes to profit from the Spanish tactician's quest for a third success in this competition following his triumphs with Valencia CF (2003/04) and Chelsea FC (2012/13).
Ahead of the semi-final second leg at FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, the Slovak international discusses Benítez's coaching style, hails the top scorer left in the competition and explains how the Neapolitans' 12th man has spurred them on.
UEFA.com: Rafael Benítez is attempting to become the first coach to lead three clubs to UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League glory. Tell us his strengths ...
Marek Hamšík: He makes himself heard and communicates well with his staff. He's an experienced coach at this level, who will certainly prepare us well to reach our target. We all want to win the trophy; the kit men, club doctors, players – right up to the coach. In football you want to win.
UEFA.com: You moved to Naples in 2007, is this the most talented squad during your time at the Stadio San Paolo?
Hamšík: It's difficult to say. We've always had gifted players, but the current side may be the most competitive.
UEFA.com: This campaign has been Napoli's best effort in a European competition since 1988/89. How has this been achieved?
Hamšík: We have a squad that is capable of challenging in any competition, led by a coach who has won a host of European trophies. Also, we have played together regularly at this level, which helps.
UEFA.com: The Partenopei have been considered title favourites since beating VfL Wolfsburg 4-1 away in the last eight. Does this affect the players?
Hamšík: I don't think we are favourites. Every match is different, but we are happy that we got the right result in that tie against Wolfsburg. We are pleased to have reached the semi-finals, but we can't be satisfied – we want to get to the final.
UEFA.com: Napoli last contested this stage during the Maradona era. What would it mean to end the European trophy drought?
Hamšík: We've satisfied our fans by lifting trophies in Italy. However, winning this competition, if we progress, would be extraordinary and something Naples would always remember.
UEFA.com: Gonzalo Higuaín is the top scorer left in the competition with seven goals. How special is he?
Hamšík: He's very special – just look at the goals he's scored in the last two seasons. Higuaín is great striker, he will help our quest.
UEFA.com: Napoli are unbeaten in 13 European home games (W9 D4). How important are your fans?
They are our 12th man and have always backed the team. Their support helps us to be successful. I can't even begin to imagine their reaction [if we won] – it would be a big party.