Raiola was sensitive and fiercely loyal behind the brash agent facade

Mino Raiola was the public embodiment of a brash, arrogant and greedy football agent to many… but behind the facade, the man who laughed at one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryers was a sensitive soul, fiercely loyal and protective of those he looked after

  • Mino Raiola passed away at the age of 54 on Saturday after a battle with illness
  • The agent was viewed as an outspoken and arrogant agent by many in football
  • But behind the facade, Raiola was a family man and loyal to those he loved
  • He also took criticism from Man Utd legend Sir Alex Ferguson in good humour
  • His departure this weekend will leave the football world all the less colourful 

To many, Mino Raiola was the public embodiment of the football agent.

Brash, outspoken, arrogant, greedy; all descriptions were levelled at him and even worse from Sir Alex Ferguson. It created an image he often revelled in. Even his accountancy firm was named Maguire Tax and Legal, as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Oscar nominated film Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise’s agent character coined the phrase ‘Show me the money’.

However, behind the tough façade, Raiola was a sensitive soul, a family man, fiercely loyal and protective of all those he represented.

He took Ferguson’s character assassination as a compliment. The Manchester United manager said he and Raiola were like ‘oil and water’.

Football agent Mino Raiola passed away at the age of 54 on Saturday after a battle with illness

‘There are one or two football agents I simply do not like and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, is one of them. I distrusted him from the start,’ said Ferguson, before later going on to call him a ‘sh**bag’.

Raiola would simply laugh before explaining to Sportsmail: ‘When Ferguson criticised me, that was the biggest compliment anybody could give me.

‘I had two meetings with Mr Ferguson. The first was nasty on his part but the second, I’d never had so much fun in my life!

‘He is an iconic manager but I still believe the fact the Glazers called to buy back Paul Pogba confirms I was right to do what I did.’

Raiola had in fact warned Pogba not to go to Juventus for fear of his young star not getting his big chance but the Frenchman told him he wanted to prove himself ‘the hard way’.

Raiola was viewed as outspoken, brash and greedy by many in football before his death

Legendary ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously called him a ‘s***bag’

But behind the face, Raiola was a sensitive soul who was protective of those close to him

When asked directly what it was like to be called ‘a parasite’, Raiola dropped his guard and admitted he would be lying if it didn’t upset him. ‘It’s not nice always to hear this preconception but maybe the public can also think: ”If this man is so greedy and so bad, how are his players all happy and stay with him?” The only ones who can judge are my players themselves.’

Testimony to that was his stellar client list.

When Moise Kean’s move to Tottenham from Juventus collapsed, an irate Raiola had no qualms chastening the club’s leading figures, Daniel Levy et al, for how they had let down his client. ‘He was fearless, it wasn’t a nice experience,’ said one club insider. ‘Yet in a way you had to admire him for having the balls to do it. He was all for the players.’

Born in Italy, Raiola’s family moved to Holland when he was an infant. His father, a mechanic, re-trained with the help of his grandmother to set up the family restaurant business.

‘I worked hard, I cleaned dishes, waited on tables, I was a barman but I never baked a pizza in my life — despite what has been written.’

He was gregarious, witty, caring in company and could converse in seven different languages

A highly intelligent man, who could converse in seven languages, Raiola was gregarious, witty and caring in company. Though you could never leave a voicemail on his phone, you could text or, if lucky, he would answer or call you back. After gaining his trust, he would keep in touch, texting for birthdays and ‘Happy New Year to you and your loved ones’. Never politically correct, he would answer queries matter of factly though direct questions about a transfer were often met with a polite rebuttal.

When this paper called him ‘The Godfather of agents’ he cringed at the mafioso comparison, a description used by his friend Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He laughed at claims he was to buy Al Capone’s old home in America. ‘The media needs to create content. Sometimes it is not fair,’ he said, knowing all too well how to manipulate it himself.

‘Sometimes they do not know what is behind the image. I’d have loved to represent Paul Gascoigne. Gazza was my kind of player and personality. When I see images some of the media carry of him’, it’s not right.’

Raiola’s tragic departure this weekend will leave the football world all the less colourful

His departure will leave the football world all the less colourful and questions will be raised over the future of his stable of stars.

However, Raiola was nothing but meticulous and with illness upon him had put plans in place for his players. His trusted associates, such as lawyer Rafaela Pimenta, and family members have continued to work to ensure Pogba’s next move, potentially to Paris St Germain, is not jeopardised as with Erling Haaland’s expected transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City.

Those big summer moves may yet provide the epitaph for one of football’s great wheeler-dealers.

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