Mino Raiola’s rise from a pizzeria worker to super-agent as he dies aged 54

Mino Raiola dead: Football agent for Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland dies aged 54

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Mino Raiola has passed away at the age of 54 following a short illness. One of football’s big characters, he’ll be missed by many across the world. So it’s time to look back at what made him such a memorable character and his rise from pizzeria worker to representing big-name stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland.

Raiola was young when he started working in his parents’ pizza restaurant in Haarlem.

But, at the age of 17, he sensed an opportunity. According to Sky Sports, at such a young age he already had a ‘gift’ for business.

Raiola then proceeded to start Intermezzo, where he explored possibilities for Dutch companies in Italy.

At the time, Dutch football was starting to grow. And Serie A was recognised as the best league in the world, with the planet’s household names choosing to strut their stuff in Italy.

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With Raiola working in business, he ‘seized a chance to be a middle man’. Football, in his eyes, was the way to go.

Though many know him because of how he brokered Pogba’s move to Manchester United in 2016, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s transfer to Barcelona previously, he was operating way before then.

He was apparently involved in Dennis Bergkamp’s move from Ajax to Inter Milan and was also part of the process when Marciano Vink moved from Ajax to Genoa.

Bryan Roy’s move to Foggia was also brokered by Raiola and he hailed the super-agent last year by saying: “He did the deal because he could speak Italian.

“But what was more important was how he looked after me once he had done the deal.

“Day and night he was with me. He made sure that I could settle in the best way.

“That is something that I will always be grateful for. Not everyone will do that for you.

“For the first couple of months, we had a room next to each other in the Hotel Cicolella.

“Then I found an apartment and he helped me with everything. Finding the right stuff for the apartment.”

Roy also insisted that this was the true nature of Raiola’s character: a caring, humble individual.

“There are many beautiful cities in Italy,” he added.

“Foggia is not one of them! I think my example is the best example of what Mino is really like.”

He isn’t alone.

Michel Kreek was also helped by Raiola when he left Ajax for Padova and also waxed lyrical over how the 54-year-old conducted himself.

“From the moment that I went to Padova, Mino was the one helping me to get a house, get a car, open the bank accounts,” he said.

“All those kinds of stuff because he spoke the language. He was there non-stop for the first three weeks so he was a great help for me in that time.

“He was able to fix everything. For example, when I signed my contract there was no car included.

“In two days, he arranged a car for me from a personal sponsor. There were certain things and he would just do it. It was not his job but he would just do it.

“That was Mino back then. He made contacts and it was so easy for him to make things happen. He was fun to be around. He was very outspoken even in those days.”

What’s also telling is what Kreek said about Raiola and his current clients today.

“It is not for nothing that the great players are with Mino,” he said.

And he’s right.

Raiola, while outspoken, was a colourful character. Sport needs them, especially in a day and age where everything is micro-managed.

His caring approach, and his eye for business, is why Ibrahimovic, Haaland and Pogba all allied with him.

Sure, there were some allegations that he was always chasing a payday. But that’s the job of an agent and he did that to a tee.

Raiola will be missed and the footballing world will likely pay tribute to the 54-year-old in the coming weeks ahead.

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