Diego Maradona has returned to Naples to plead his innocence over an outstanding €40m tax bill issued to him by the Italian justice system.
The former Argentina and Napoli striker expressed his desire to avoid persecution in the southern Italian city, where he is worshipped by fans of the Serie A club with whom he won league titles in 1987 and 1990.
"I want to tell everyone that I have Napoli in my very soul. I've wanted to say so for a long time, but there are people who would not let me do so," said Maradona.
The 1986 World Cup winner blames senior figures at the club at the time for the situation he now finds himself.
"Why do I have to pay and not them, when I gave my life to Napoli? I am not a victim because I have earned a lot of money, but I didn't know anything about the contractual issues.
"I am facing up to the situation because I have not killed anyone."