Ex-Italy defender Mauro Bellugi had died after having both of his legs amputated following complications with Covid-19.
Bellugi was admitted to the hospital in early November after being diagnosed with the virus. He then underwent emergency surgery to amputate both of his legs after a pre-existing condition worsened. The former Inter Milan player remained in a Milanese hospital and passed away on Saturday at the age of 71. His loss has been felt across Italy where Serie A clubs all held a minute’s silence before kick-off at the weekend.
Tributes came pouring in for Bellugi, who was also capped 32 times by the Italian National Team from 1972 to 1980. Inter Milan wrote on Twitter: “Today he leaves us, a great man, a great footballer, a true ‘Interista’. Rest in peace Mauro Bellugi.” While the president of the Lombardy region, Atillo Fontana wrote on Facebook: “Exactly one year after the first case of COVID-19 in Italy, Mauro Bellugi leaves us.”
He added: “Scarred by the virus, the national and Inter player tried to react to a complicated health situation with his usual strength and irony. A prayer and a thought for his loved ones.”
Gabriele Gravina who is president of the Italian Football Association, said: “The news brings great pain to Italian football.
“Mauro was a hero. In addition to his skills on the pitch, I appreciated his human qualities and his extraordinary strength of mind, especially in this period of suffering.”
Bellugi enjoyed particular success with Inter Milan in a 12-year career which also took in Bologna, Napoli, and Pistoiese.
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The defender won the Scudetto with the San Siro club in 1971 and reached the European Cup final in 1972.
He also won the Coppa Italia with Bologna and went to both the 1974 and 1978 World Cup with Italy. Even in his darkest hour, Bellugi still found it possible to take a lighter look at life and his own situation. After his amputation, he said: “They took off my leg with which I scored against Borussia Monchengladbach.
“At least they might give me some blades, so I’ll be as fast as Oscar Pistorius.”