Mino Raiola, the guardian devil

I had known him since ’92, from his first Italian deal, Bryan Roy at Foggia. We had almost become friends. Three years ago, March 2019, he sent me to fuck off because of a wrong title: we had taken for granted an intervention on a fake profile, damn his facebook. I still keep the text message: «Hi Ivan, just to inform you that I will denounce your newspaper and the journalist… low level, it’s not like you, hug Mino». He didn’t. On his phone it was very unpleasant: he knew how to be of unparalleled aggressiveness, we told each other of all colors.
Some time later he had already forgotten everything and a few months ago, assuming that he only trusted me, he gave Corriere dello Sport the exclusive interview with Donnarumma on the transfer to PSG. These are his words: “Gigio did not leave Milan for any other reason than to grow up”.
Raiola knew how to be angel and devil, more often diabolical than angelic. I called him Houdini: just as he disappeared and was not found for months, suddenly he reappeared. “How are you?”.
It was he who made the figure of the prosecutor internationally (im) popular, who did her good but also harm. He had become the parameter, the symbol, the manifesto of an unpleasant basic profession, that of the intermediary; the surname had replaced the role: procurator equal Raiola. And not vice versa.
Mino was not afraid of anyone, he was a mix of determination and arrogance, he often went into confrontation, especially with journalists, and he had become the specialist in the most uncomfortable transfers. Among all, those of Ibra from Messi’s Barcelona to Milan after just one season (he quarreled with Guardiola) and of Donnarumma to PSG on a free transfer. For over a year he had been working on the sale of Haaland for which he asked – it is said – 50 million commissions to be shared with the attacker’s father.
He had formed important and strategic alliances-friendships: Zeman, Nedved, Moggi, Ibra, Galliani. Above all, he had understood that Fifa and Uefa did not care and therefore, in defiance of the regulations, he was in fact a member of the families of the champions. Intelligent and shrewd, before and more than anyone else, he had realized that governing bodies thought about their interests and nothing else.
Eighteen years ago, in Udine for the Eurochampion award organized in September by the Pozzo family (the very young Messi accompanied by his father was also present), we had dinner together with Ibrahimovic, who had just been bought by Juve, and the lawyer who took care of the legal part of Raiola, a Brazilian lady. At one point Mino provoked Zlatan – for him it was “Slatan” – by telling him that if he scored more he would become the greatest center forward in the world, Ibra’s response was this: “If I had scored more goals I would not have needed you. “. In reality with Mino the goals, the millions and the eternal freedom to think and say came for Ibra.
Raiola has always done the utmost for his clients and for himself. Also for this reason the players loved him and would never leave him: he had an uncommon sensitivity in identifying the deal and the frailties of presidents and managers. He spoke many languages, “the worst Italian,” he confessed. They called him “the pizza maker” because his family had clubs in Haarlem. This pissed him off and more than once he had made it clear, unheard, that he had never rolled out a pizza in his life.
In 2010, for GQ Italia, the director Michele Lupi asked me to interview him: I went to Montecarlo, we had lunch, I met Vincenzo, cousin and first collaborator, and he made me meet his wife, met in Foggia, and the children who had just returned from school. They lived in a nice apartment on avenue d’Angleterre. I remember that before saying goodbye he said: «Remember this house well because next year it will be different, my wife has the walls repainted all the time. You cost me a lot of money. ‘ With what Mino brought home every summer he could have had them redone every day.
I don’t even want to imagine what his last six months have been like, the suffering, the physical pain. I know you fought like a lion against an opponent who is struggling to come to terms.
In the last dramatic hours, again thanks to a fake news, Mino has managed to imitate 007 in a personal version, “You only die twice”. He would have suffered even more if he had imagined he was regretting. I don’t mean from his players, but from the many opponents, even the most hateful. On the other hand, where do you find such an enemy?

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Mino Raiola, the guardian devil


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