Betrayal. It’s a word that’s thrown around often in football, not least in the modern era when the average first-team line-up apparently contains more snakes than the reptile house at London Zoo.
But few players have inspired as much hatred on their return to their former club as Gonzalo Higuain. His move to Juventus from Napoli in the summer saw shirts burned and his printed face torn off a billboard outside the Stadio San Paolo.
Higuain makes his first return to Naples since that switch on Sunday in the second-leg of their Italian Cup clash and enterprising vendors are already selling toilet paper with his face on outside the stadium.
There’s a logic behind the dislike. Juventus have dominated Italian football for the last five seasons. They are more powerful financially than any other club in the league, which allowed them to splash £75million on an ageing striker to ensure they won a record sixth title on the spin.
It was the obvious signing to make, the 29-year-old who had plundered 36 goals in 35 Serie A games for the Naples club last campaign.
But it still rankles for Napoli. There is a notion there that it was the team that brought Higuain success last campaign, not just the striker’s own talent.
As Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis put it in an explosive interview last summer: ‘Isn’t his agent embarrassed to say that the team where he played and helped him score 38 goals was not up to the challenge?