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SPORTS UPDATE

Super Agent Mino Raiola dies at 54

High-profile super agent Mino Raiola has died at the age of 54 following an illness, his family has confirmed.

Raiola – who was the representative of such stars as Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced to take to social media and slam suggestions he had died on Thursday.

But in a statement, a statement from his family said: ‘In infinite sorrow, we share the passing of the most caring and amazing football agent that ever was.

‘Mino fought until the end with the same strength he put on negotiation tables to defend our players. As usual, Mino made us proud and never realised it.

‘Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will forever be missed.

‘Mino’s mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.’

Raiola, who also represents Marco Verratti, Matthijs de Ligt and Gianluigi Donnarumma, was previously hospitalised in January due to an unspecified issue.

Raiola underwent very delicate surgery but the nature of the illness was not revealed.

Reports said at the time the condition wasn’t life-threatening and that Raiola would begin a period of rehabilitation at home – but he had been back in intensive care in recent weeks.

Mino Raiola was born in the south of Italy before moving to Holland as an infant as his parents made a living from a sandwich shop, then a pizzeria, and later an upmarket restaurant.

He made his first move in the world of football administration when, as a 25-year-old, his company Intermezzo helped facilitate Holland international Bryan Roy’s transfer from Ajax to Foggia.

Raiola, who moved to Foggia to live with Roy for seven months, became close with Foggia manager Zdenek Zeman and soon began to build up contacts in Czech Republic.

In 1996, with Raiola quickly becoming a rising star in the agent world in Italy, negotiated Pavel Nedved’s move from Sparta Prague to Lazio, then managed by close friend Zeman.

Slowly but surely the Dutch-Italian agent became a key player and it was an encounter with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2001, then at Ajax, that had a lasting impact on both of them.

They had dinner together in a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam and Ibrahimovic quickly pushed for Raiola to become his agent.

Raiola’s client base has sky-rocketed since then with household names such as Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland, Matthjis de Ligt and Henrikh Mkhitaryan among his stable.

In August 2016, it was Raiola who negotiated the £89million world record transfer of Pogba to Manchester United.

Raiola reportedly made £20m from the Pogba deal, allowing him to purchase the former Miami home of notorious American mob boss Al Capone.

In 2019, Raiola was victorious in Italy’s Federal Court of Appeal after FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee ratified a three-month ban from the Italian Football Federation due to ‘undisclosed reasons’.

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