Football icon Mihajlovic dies aged 53
Former Yugoslav international Mihajlovic passed away following a long illness
Sinisa Mihajlovic, an iconic figure within Italian football, has passed away at the age of 53 following a battle with cancer, it has been announced.
Born in Vukovar, Croatia, Mihajlovic would go on to spend much of his life in Italy after moving to Serie A from Red Star Belgrade in 1992.
He later wore the colors of Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter Milan, before hanging up his boots in 2006, winning the Italian championship with both Lazio and Inter during that time.
He was considered by many to be among the best dead-ball specialists in the history of the sport and still holds the record for the most free-kick goals in the history of Italian football, with 28.
Goodbye, Mister, you will forever be in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/QeMs4zeUJc
— Bologna FC 1909 (@BolognaFC1909en) December 16, 2022
A tough-tackling defender for much of his career in Italy, Mihajlovic was caught up in controversy on more than one occasion.
His temper came to the fore in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, when he was seen appearing to spit in the face of German player Jens Jeremies after the pair exchanged insults following a heavy challenge from Mihajlovic.
In 2003, he was issued with an-eight match UEFA suspension after he was again accused of spitting, this time at former Chelsea player Adrian Mutu. He would coach Mutu at Fiorentina several years later.
Heaven has gained another legend. You will be sorely missed, Siniša.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) December 16, 2022
RIP Sinisa. pic.twitter.com/x5UNhNpBoU
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) December 16, 2022
My childhood hero has passed away
RIP Sinisa Mihajlovic we will never forget you. pic.twitter.com/AaY9vxQLX1
— Serbian Football (@SerbianFooty) December 16, 2022
After retiring from his playing career, Mihajlovic moved into coaching and helmed various clubs in the Italian top flight such as Fiorentina, Sampdoria, AC Milan and, most recently, Bologna.
The 63-times capped former Yugoslav international also managed Serbia (for whom he also won one international cap) for a brief spell between May 2012 and November 2013.
Mihajlovic was relieved of his duties at Bologna in September after a poor start to the season.
In 2019, he had revealed that he was receiving treatment following a diagnosis of leukemia while maintaining his position at the Italian football club.
Reacting to the news, AC Milan issued a tweet in tribute to their former manager.
“Heaven has gained another legend. You will be sorely missed, Sinisa,” wrote the team.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, wrote that they hope he rests in peace, while Bologna added: “Goodbye, Mister, you will forever be in our hearts.”
A Serbian football fan account added to the tributes: “My childhood hero has passed away. RIP Sinisa Mihajlovic we will never forget you.”