MAREK HAMSIK

Born: July 27, 1987, in Banska Bystrica, Czechoslovakia

Position: Midfielder

Nickname: Marekiario

Clubs played for: After a brief stint with Slovakian club Slovan Bratislava in 2004, Hamsik made the jump to Italy later that year as a 17-year-old when he signed with Brescia. The club was relegated at the end of the 2004-05 Serie A season, and the young Slovak spent a year in the second division before being transferred to newly promoted Serie A club Napoli in 2007. Ever since, Hamsik has become one of the hottest properties in European soccer with his string of stellar performances in Italy's top division.

International career: Hamsik represented Slovakia at youth level before making his senior team debut on Feb. 7, 2007 in a game against Poland. After Slovakia failed to qualify for Euro 2008, Hamsik played a pivotal role in helping his country earn a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Why is he so special? Napoli loves its heroes, as seen by their fans' worship of Diego Maradona. Hamsik's skill and charisma have elevated him to demigod status for Napoli faithful, earning their praise as an elite box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira.

His most famous moment: Scoring two goals, including the game-winner in the 81st minute, to lift Napoli to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Juventus on Oct. 31, 2009.

He said it: "I find myself very well in Napoli and I am treated like a king. I am so famous, that even if I were to speed around the city at 140 kilometres no one would stop me and no one would give me a fine."

What they're saying about him: "I think he will be the best midfielder in the world within a year, if he is not already." - Aurelio De Laurentis, chairman of Napoli

Here's an interesting fact: After Hamsik was carjacked and robbed of his Rolex watch last December, Napoli fans set up a Facebook page apologizing for the incident. A few days later, the watch was returned to him.