Ranieri wanted Maradona to come out of retirement in 1991.
“I think it's a wonderful gesture. As well as being a world champion, Maradona was the soul of Napoli in a way, giving the whole population life in football terms," Ranieri told the official Sampdoria website.
“The first year I went to Napoli as a coach, Ciro Ferrara and I tried to convince Maradona to return, We spoke to him twice when we were in pre-season training, but he had already decided to retire. It was very disappointing, because I would've loved to coach a player like him."
Samp meet Napoli later today.
Ranieri added: "We will be up against a solid team that has good movement and the character of Rino Gattuso. We have to show determination, passion and spirit of sacrifice to get a result.
"Napoli have many champions whose great strength is the speed with which they make moves happen."
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