Milan: Napoli captain Marek Hamsik brought the curtain down on his 12-year career at the club and on Friday the team paid tribute to the Slovak star as he prepares to move to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
"We wish Hamsik all the best in the future," said coach Carlo Ancelotti after Napoli's 3-1 win over FC Zurich in the Europa League last 32, first leg on Thursday night.
Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne, who takes the captain's armband from the Slovak international, took to Instagram to pay tribute to the 31-year-old.
"Dear Marek, since I was lucky enough to wear the shirt of my city's team, you have always been present as Friend, Comrade and Captain," wrote Insigne, 27, who joined the southern Italian side the year before Hamsik.
"Napoli welcomes everyone with open arms but you managed to immediately create an unbreakable bond thanks to your humility and kindness. For me you have always been an example on and off the pitch. This will always be your home and we will always be your family," he added.
Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly tweeted: "Champion. Captain. Friend."
Napoli posted photos every hour in a "best of" Hamsik's 12-year stay in Naples, including one when he became the team's youngest ever captain aged 22 in March 2010.
Club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis added, "I wish Marek all happiness in China. The doors of Napoli will always be open for him."
The Chinese club will reportedly pay 20 million euros ($22.6 million) to sign Hamsik, whose three-year contract is set to earn him an annual salary of nine million euros ($10.2 million). That is three times what he earns in Italy.
Hamsik, capped 111 times by Slovakia, scored 121 goals in 520 appearances for Napoli.
Marek Hamsik leaves as Napoli's all-time leading appearance maker and goalscorer 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ROIm9lXdYh
" B/R Football (@brfootball) February 14, 2019
Last season he overtook Diego Maradona (115) as the club's record goalscorer. He helped the club win the Coppa Italia twice, in 2012 and 2014, and the 2014 Italian Super Cup.
"Marek has been able to give a crucial and commendable contribution in both a human and sporting sense, making his mark and emerging as a symbol of the De Laurentiis era," Napoli said in a statement.
"A captain, an example, a footballer and a man who Napoli will love forever, and who will forever remain in our history," added the statement.
Napoli " who last won Serie A in 1990 " are currently second in the table, 11 points adrift of leaders Juventus.