Mino Raiola, one of football’s most powerful agents whose high-profile clients included Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland, has died at the age of 54, his family announced on Saturday.
“In infinite sorrow, we share the passing of the most caring and amazing Football Agent that ever was,” the Italian’s family said in a message on Twitter.
“Mino fought to 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.”
Raiola’s family did not say from what illness he had been suffering but he had been at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital where he had previously survived scares.
His death comes two days after Italian media reported he had died only for his agency, the head of San Raffaele’s intensive care department and eventually the man himself to deny he had passed away.
Raiola built up a glittering portfolio of players, which also included AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, over a long career as both one of the sport’s most influential agents and most controversial characters.
He attracted criticism due to the enormous sums he earned in commissions from his deals and the huge inflation in player salaries — which have risen to previously unimaginable levels since the 1990s — that he helped to fuel.
Raiola was born in Nocera Inferiore in southern Italy but in 1968, still only a one-year-old, he was taken with his family to Haarlem in the Netherlands.
He began his working life at his family’s pizzeria in the medieval city before beginning his long march to becoming one of the most powerful agents in football.
He would regularly butt into conversations being held between the directors of local side Haarlem FC, whose board would dine at the pizzeria at least once a week, offering his opinion on the state of the club regardless of whether it was wanted or not.
Raiola briefly worked as technical director at Haarlem, and then for the Sports Promotions agency, specialising in moving high-profile Dutch players to Italy.