Mino Raiola’s rise from pizzeria worker to becoming a football super-agent | Football News


Perhaps the title of Roderick Turpijn means little to you. He was a Dutch footballer who made a handful of appearances for Ajax within the Nineteen Nineties earlier than transferring on to De Graafschap and drifting out of the skilled sport by his mid-twenties.

No matter. That one switch had already set him up for all times.

Turpijn revealed as a lot in his personal account of the deal. In a unprecedented act of brinkmanship, his agent had walked out on negotiations with De Graafschap – then, as now, an unremarkable Dutch staff. He demanded they match Turpijn’s wage at Ajax.

Surprisingly, the membership agreed, even throwing in bonuses. Impressive work even earlier than you discover out that the determine his agent claimed Turpijn was incomes at Ajax was pure fantasy.

That agent was Mino Raiola.

Turpijn’s gratitude stays – his account of this story within the bimonthly journal Hard Gras was entitled ‘Thank you, Mino’ – and maybe the story additionally helps to illustrate Raiola’s enduring enchantment to his purchasers. To them, he’s nonetheless the little man out to beat the system.

Agents are typically styled because the enemies of the sport and Raiola has come to personify that extra clearly than anybody else. While his up to date Jorge Mendes is considered as a extra shadowy determine, greasing the wheels of enterprise, Raiola is outspoken, brash.

Sir Alex Ferguson freely admits he took an instantaneous dislike to him.

But gamers love him. That trade with Ferguson resulted in Pogba leaving for Juventus the place he turned a famous person, returning to Manchester United for a world file charge. Zlatan Ibrahimovic entrusted his profession to him. Erling Haaland is now doing the identical.

The bonds solid with this Dutch-Italian are actual.

“For the players, Mino is a great guy because he helps them to get the best contracts they can get,” Michel Kreek tells Sky Sports. “For the clubs, he is a pain in the a***.”

To perceive how the sport’s greatest stars have come to depend on Raiola, it helps to return to the start and people very first offers. If the Turpijn story tells us one thing about his negotiating abilities, others shine a gentle on this skill to construct belief.

Ajax's Michel Kreek
Michel Kreek was helped by Mino Raiola following his transfer from Ajax to Padova

Kreek was a midfielder with Ajax. A two-time title winner, he was additionally a part of Louis van Gaal’s aspect that defeated Torino within the 1992 UEFA Cup closing. But the emergence of Edgar Davids quickly left him on the bench and the prospect to transfer to Italy appealed.

In Kreek’s case, the Italian membership was Padova.

“Even if it was not the biggest club, it was a big move for me to go to the best league in Europe. It was a big step. I had been at Ajax since I was eight so I knew every corner of the stadium. Then you go abroad and you have to look after yourself at 23 years old.”

Not fairly. Kreek’s supervisor was Rob Jansen however he had Raiola for firm.

“At that time, Mino was working for Rob so he had to guide all the players who were going to Italy,” Kreek explains. “In my situation, I went to Padova. Mino was the translator for everything that was said between Rob Jansen and the board of Padova.”

Having labored in his mother and father’ pizza restaurant in Haarlem since he was a boy, Raiola had a reward for enterprise. He began Intermezzo, exploring alternatives for Dutch firms in Italy, at 17. He claims to have been a self-made millionaire whereas nonetheless a teenager.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mino Raiola pictured at the 2018 World Cup
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mino Raiola pictured collectively on the 2018 World Cup

When it got here to football, as a younger man of Italian heritage dwelling on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the celebrities aligned. Raiola was beginning out at a time when a fantastic technology of Dutch expertise was rising and Serie A was the most effective league on the earth.

“Of course, the money was better in Italy than Holland,” says Kreek.

Raiola’s enterprise noticed him seize the prospect to be a center man. He was concerned in Dennis Bergkamp’s well-known transfer to Inter however there have been many extra. Marciano Vink moved from Ajax to Genoa that very same yr. The earlier summer time, Bryan Roy went to Foggia.

Roy’s expertise with Raiola is revealing.

“He did the deal because he could speak Italian,” Roy tells Sky Sports.

“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.”

Bryan Roy at Hertha Berlin
Bryan Roy relied closely upon Mino Raiola following his transfer to Foggia

Raiola spent half a yr with Roy in Foggia. “For the first couple of months, we had a room next to each other in the Hotel Cicolella,” he remembers. “Then I found an apartment and he helped me with everything. Finding the right stuff for the apartment.”

No job was too huge, no element too small. Raiola even helped paint the residence. For Roy, it was proof of his dedication. “There are many beautiful cities in Italy” he provides. “Foggia is not one of them! I think my example is the best example of what Mino is really like.”

Even so, Kreek has a few of his personal.

“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. 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 ready to repair every thing. For instance, after I signed my contract there was no automotive included. In two days, he organized a automotive for me from a private sponsor. There have been sure issues and he would simply do it. It was not his job however he would simply 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.”

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What set Raiola aside is that he was not kicking downwards however upwards. He enjoys telling the story of berating former Juventus director Luciano Moggi in entrance of his personal entourage for not assembly up with the then-unknown Raiola as had been agreed.

Even skilled figures comparable to Zdenek Zeman, the celebrated Czech coach who would go on to lead Lazio, Roma and Napoli, have been unable to escape him inside their inside sanctum. Zeman was Foggia coach when Roy arrived and he quickly had an unlikely assistant.

“He even went into the dressing room when the manager had his talks,” says Roy, laughing to himself on the reminiscence. “He was stood right next to Zeman for the first couple of weeks just to coach me. It was terrific. It was phenomenal. We had a very good friendship.”

Zeman got here to respect it too. In the summer time of 1996, Raiola helped take Zeman’s compatriot Pavel Nedved from Sparta Prague to his Lazio aspect. Nedved would go on to be part of Juventus and win the Ballon d’Or in 2003, cementing Raiola’s standing as a super-agent.

By then, his time as Jansen’s translator was over.

“Rob was taking the lead, Mino was assisting,” remembers Kreek. “At a certain point, I think Mino thought he could do it better on his own and decided to start his own company.”

It was a shrewd transfer. Raiola’s consumer base stays comparatively small, nonetheless priding himself on the non-public contact. But twenty years on, he’s nonetheless doing a number of the greatest offers, nonetheless antagonising a number of the world’s most well-known golf equipment. And nonetheless trusted by the celebrities.

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

Haaland’s subsequent switch will likely be certainly one of football’s greatest.

Expect Mino Raiola to do the deal.

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