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Siniša Mihajlović, soccer player and coach, dies at 53

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ROME (AP) — Siniša Mihajlović, a former standout soccer player in his native Serbia and then Italy who became a popular coach in Serie A, has died after a long battle with leukemia. He was 53.

Mihajlović’s family announced Friday that he died in a Rome hospital.

Mihajlović had most recently coached Bologna for 3 ½ years, becoming a sentimental favorite of fans and players alike for his desire to remain on the job even after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019.

Players sometimes gathered under Mihajlović’s hospital window when the coach was receiving treatment.

He was fired by Bologna in September.

A fullback and free kick specialist, Mihajlović was on the Red Star Belgrade team that won the European Cup in 1991. He also won Serie A as a player with Lazio in 2000 and was on the Inter Milan team that was given the 2006 Serie A title after Juventus was stripped of the honor for the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

“The Serie A league is deeply pained by the death of Siniša Mihajlović,” the Italian league tweeted. “His pure class as a footballer and coach, his strength and his humanity are an example that leaves an indelible void in Italian and world soccer.”

Mihajlović also coached Catania, Fiorentina, Serbia’s national team, Sampdoria, AC Milan and Torino.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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