Of all his clients, nobody was closer to Mino Raiola than Zlatan Ibrahimovic and it remained that way until the end. ‘He’s your style, one from the streets.’
Raiola died at the age of 54 this afternoon in hospital in Milan, where he had been undergoing treatment for a pulmonary illness.
Probably the most famous agent in world football, the figure born in Italy and raised in the Netherlands went from translator to one of the great powerhouses in the sport.
Ibrahimovic visited Raiola in hospital this week and Sky Sport Italia report that he then left training today in a rush and drove away from the Milanello ground.
He had received news that Raiola’s condition was deteriorating and wanted to be there, like a member of the family.
Ibra had also given an interview to Sky Sport Italia last year describing how he first got together with Raiola when playing for Ajax.
“I asked a journalist in Holland to suggest an agent, because the situation was not under control. After a week, he suggested David Beckham’s agent or ‘an Italian I think you will really like. He’s your style, one from the streets.’ It was Mino Raiola.
“The first meeting, he pulled out these bits of paper and said these are great players with great statistics. He showed me, Andriy Shevchenko, 25 games and 23 goals. Pippo Inzaghi, 27 games and 25 goals. Bobo Vieri, 24 games and 23 goals.
“Then Ibrahimovic, 21 games and four goals. He said: ‘How can I sell you if you have these statistics?’
“I believed in myself and said if I had those statistics, I wouldn’t need an agent, even my mother could sell me. This is why I need an agent. Mino laughed.”
There were some suggestions Ibrahimovic would be given time off for compassionate leave following Raiola’s death, but he is in the squad for tomorrow’s Serie A match against Fiorentina.