Marek Hamšík is a Slovak professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for the Slovakia national team, for which he is vice-captain behind Martin Škrtel. After beginning his club career with Slovan Bratislava in 2004, Hamšík moved to Italian club Brescia later that year. In 2007, he was purchased by newly promoted Serie A club Napoli, where he has since become a mainstay in the squad’s starting line-up. His energy, leadership, creativity, skill and eye for goal from midfield saw him play a key role in helping the team to two Coppa Italia titles, a Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Champions League qualification and the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League semi-finals. He scored 121 goals for the club and collected 521 appearances in all competitions during his 12 seasons with the team, and also served as the club’s captain between 2014 and 2019; he became the club’s all-time top goalscorer in 2017, and the club’s all-time appearance holder in 2018. In February 2019, he joined Chinese club Dalian Yifang. At international level, Hamšík represented Slovakia at the 2010 FIFA World Cup as the team’s captain, helping his country to qualify for the tournament for the first time in their history, and subsequently led the national team to the round of 16 of the tournament with a victory over defending champions Italy in the final match of the group stage. He later also led his nation to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016, making their first ever appearance at the European Championship, and once again helped the national side to reach the second round of the competition. He has collected over 110 international caps at senior level, scoring over 20 goals, and in 2018, he became his nation’s most capped player ever. For his performances, Hamšík has also won several individual awards: he is a six-time winner of the Slovak Footballer of the Year Award, and he was named Serie A Young Footballer of the Year in 2008. In 2011, 2016 and 2017, he was named to the Serie A Team of the Year, and in 2015, he was included in the UEFA Europa League Squad of the season. In 2013, Hamšík was ranked as the eighth best footballer in Europe by Bloomberg.
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On 16 December 2017, Hamšík scored his 115th goal for Napoli in a 3–1 away victory over Torino, equalling Diego Maradona as the club’s all-time top scorer. He surpassed Maradona’s record one week later, becoming Napoli’s outright all-time top goalscorer with his 116th goal for the club, which came in a 3–2 victory against Sampdoria in Naples. On 6 May 2018, he scored his 100th goal in Serie A (all of which came with Napoli) in a 2–2 home draw against Torino after coming off the bench.
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Hamšík represented Slovakia at junior level, playing in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifiers and the UEFA European Under-19 Championship. He played also for the Slovakia national under-21 team. Hamšík is a regular member of the Slovakia national team. He made his debut on 7 February 2007 in a friendly against Poland, which ended in a 2–2 draw. He played his second match against Germany in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualification, which Slovakia lost 2–1. He became the key member of the attack for the national team, usually playing as a left or central attacking midfielder. Hamšík captained his country in its first FIFA World Cup experience in South Africa in 2010, where the nation made it to the first knockout stage after defeating then-world champions Italy 3–2. Slovakia was defeated by later finalists Netherlands in the first knockout stage. Hamšík also played a key role in helping his nation qualify for Euro 2016 for the first time in the nation’s history, finishing as Slovakia’s top scorer as Slovakia placed second in its qualifying group behind defending champions Spain. Slovakia suffered a closely contested 2–1 defeat to Wales in its opening match of the competition on 11 June. Hamšík came close to opening the scoring in the third minute of play after dribbling past several Welsh defenders, but his strike was denied by Ben Davies’ goal-line clearance. In Slovakia’s second group B match of the tournament, against Russia on 15 June 2016, Hamšík set up a goal and later scored another himself in a 2–1 win, his nation’s first in the competition. Following a 0–0 draw against England on 20 June, Slovakia advanced to the second round as the best third-placed team of the tournament. However, Slovakia was eliminated in the round of 16 on 26 June after a 3–0 defeat to reigning world champions Germany. On 5 October 2017, Hamšík made his 100th appearance for the Slovak national team in a 0–1 loss to Scotland in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match. On 13 October 2018, Hamšík made his 108th international appearance in a 2–1 home defeat to Czech Republic in the UEFA Nations League; with this cap, he overtook Miroslav Karhan to become Slovakia’s most capped player ever. He marked the occasion with a goal, his 22nd for his country, putting him equal with Szilárd Németh as his nation’s second-highest goalscorer of all time, only behind Róbert Vittek with 23 goals. In March 2019, after a surprise retirement of Martin Škrtel at the end of February, Hamšík regained the position of the captain of the national team, despite captaining the team some 20 times since 2010, most notably during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In the previous years, Hamšík served as the vice-captain to Škrtel. Hamsik shortly became also a true legend out of his country. In 2017 Napoli’s fans together with the dutch street artist Jorit who previously painted a Maradona’s murals in San Giovanni a Teduccio (Napoli), dedicated Marek a full building murals with his image on with “Maori” signs on his face.
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Hamšík has been described as “quick, energetic, hard-working, and tactically versatile midfielder, who is capable of playing in several offensive positions on either side of the pitch, or even through the centre”. Throughout his career, he has been deployed as a central midfielder, as an attacking midfielder, as a winger, or even as a supporting striker or inside forward on occasion. Although naturally right footed, he is capable of striking the ball well with either foot, and is known for his ability to both score and create goals, often dropping deep to participate in the build-up of his team’s plays. A talented, elegant, and technically gifted advanced playmaker, in addition to his footballing skills, he is also known for his leadership and stamina, as well as his play and intelligence off the ball, in particular his ability to make attacking runs to get into good positions in the opposition’s half, and his tireless running. He is also capable of playing as a deep-lying playmaker or in a box-to-box role, due to his passing and tactical intelligence, and is an effective free kick and penalty taker, although his record from the penalty spot has been inconsistent at times throughout his career.