Quagliarella relief as blackmail ‘nightmare’ ends

Milan (AFP) – Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella was close to tears Sunday as he recounted the “nightmare” of a stalker bringing his dream move to Napoli to a premature end as his family feared for their lives.

Quagliarella joined hometown club Napoli from Udinese on a five-year deal worth 18 million euros in 2009, scoring 11 league goals in 34 appearances in his maiden season at the club.

But hopes of staying on were ended when the former Italy international began receiving threats.

Raffaele Piccolo, a former policeman, was eventually investigated for blackmailing Quagliarella and his family. He had sent letters to Napoli claiming the player was involved in organised crime, paedophilia and drug trafficking.

After a lengthy investigation, Piccolo was imprisoned on Friday for four years and eight months.

“A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” an emotional Quagliarella said after scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Cagliari.

“It was the reason I left Napoli. It was a dream move for me, I was at my hometown club, but I couldn’t leave the house myself or with my family after receiving threats that suggested anything could happen at any moment.

“It turned my life into a nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Barely a year after his big-money move to Napoli, Quagliarella stunned fans when he moved to Juventus on loan, eventually signing a permanent deal with the Turin giants worth 10.5 million euros in June 2011.

“It’s hard. People judge you without really knowing the truth but you can’t say anything during an investigation,” he added.

“I thank the law courts for making sure the truth came out. Everyone has the right to a peaceful life.” 

Quagliarella, who has scored seven goals in 25 appearances for Italy, hit 23 goals in 83 games for Juventus before moving across town to Torino, where he netted 18 times in 50 matches.

He returned to Sampdoria, where he played in 2006-07, last season.

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