Inter have released an official statement on their club website in which they pay their respects to former manager Luigi ‘Gigi’ Simoni who passed away earlier on today, aged 81.

Simoni took charge of Inter on July 1 1997 and spent 16 months in charge of the club, during which time he managed 73 matches across all competitions.

Simoni led the club to 45 victories and won a single trophy during his tenure with the club, the 1997/98 UEFA Cup. He also won the manager of the year award that season.

In a 38 year managerial career between 1974 and 2012, Simoni, whose last position in football was as president of Cremoneseup until the Summer of 2016, managed 17 other clubs including the likes of Napoli, Empoli and CSKA Sofia.

“Today, 22 May, he left us. Not just any date, the most Inter-related date of all,” Inter’s statement began.

“We remember Gigi Simoni and will miss everything about him. First and foremost, his gentlemanly way of being. His way of living, both in life and football, was never over the top. His football reflected that: it was humble, functional and capable of making the most of what he had on offer.

“He arrived in the Nerazzurri dugout in 1997, together with El Fenomeno, Ronaldo. That combination, Simoni-Ronaldo, will remain in everyone’s hearts forever, and not just those of Inter fans. That was a father-son relationship, one in which he showed great compassion towards a truly special footballer: Simoni loved to tell us, “I learned more from him than he did from me that season.” A phrase that brilliantly encapsulates what type of person he was.

“He embodied the most genuine passion for Inter. And on 6 May 1998 he produced his greatest feat as a coach: he out-manoeuvred a great Lazio side and didn’t give them a sniff. On that magical night at the Parc des Princes, Zamorano, Zanetti and Ronaldo handed Inter their third UEFA Cup.”

The statement then went to also list off some of the other achievements that former Brescia and Genoa player Simoni achieved during his managerial career.

“The world of football has lost a great coach and a wonderful person. During his playing career, he won a Coppa Italia with Napoli as well as Serie B with Genoa. As a coach, in addition to the UEFA Cup with Inter, he lifted the Anglo-Italian Cup with Cremonese and won five Serie B titles (three with Genoa, two with Pisa). In 1998 he received the Panchina d’Oro as the best Italian coach, a much-deserved recognition of his talents.”

The statement concluded with the following: “This is how we remember him: with his white hair, in our dugout, while he enjoyed the magic of Ronaldo with a smile on his face, enveloped by the fans’ affection.

“Farewell Gigi, we’ll miss you.”