Sinisa Mihajlovic was given a fond farewell by the good and great of Italian football as his funeral was held in Rome on Monday.
Former team-mates Roberto Mancini, Attilio Lombardo and Dejan Stankovic were among those who carried Mihajlovic’s coffin out of the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and of the Martyrs after the service, to the sound of applause from within the church.
Mihajlovic and Italy head coach Mancini were team-mates at Sampdoria and Lazio, with Mancini later also coaching Mihajlovic at Lazio before taking the then 35-year-old with him to Inter in 2004.
They had a close friendship, winning the Serie A title together with Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Lazio in the 1999-2000 season, and doing so again at Inter in 2006, as player and coach.
Mihajlovic’s death after a battle with leukaemia was announced on Friday, a shuddering jolt to the football community in Italy, where the popular former Yugoslavia international spent most of his career. He died last week at the age of 53.
A final goodbye to Sinisa Mihajlovic.
— Bologna FC 1909 (@BolognaFC1909en)
After his playing days ended, Mihajlovic became Mancini’s Inter assistant before having spells as a head coach with Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Milan, Torino and, finally, Bologna for a second time.
Mihajlovic was ousted as Bologna boss in September of this year, after a slow start to the season, and the players he left behind made the trip to Rome to pay tribute.
Mancini said ahead of the funeral that Mihajlovic had “fought like a lion until the last moment, as he was used to doing on the pitch”.
As a player, Mihajlovic was a tough-tackling defender who also packed a fierce shot and became known as a free-kick expert.
Wife Arianna led the family at the funeral. She wrote on Instagram following Mihajlovic’s death: “When you will no longer be part of me, I will carve out of your memory many little stars, then the sky will be so beautiful that the whole world will fall in love with the night.”
She also posted a picture of the couple and their five children, stating: “I’ll take care of them don’t worry. Our greatest masterpiece! We’ll never stop loving you.”
Former Serbia, Lazio, Roma and Inter defender Aleksander Kolarov was among the mourners, along with Serie A luminaries including Francesco Totti, Franco Baresi, Daniele De Rossi, Angela Di Livio and Stefano Fiore.
The Corriere dello Sport newspaper reported the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, was also in attendance, along with Italy’s sports minister, Andrea Abodi.