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Sampdoria president Garrone dies

Sampdoria have paid tribute to president Riccardo Garrone, who died on Monday after a long illness.

The 76-year-old oil magnate, who ran the ERG energy group, took control of Sampdoria in 2002 and helped steer them back to Serie A in his first season.

The club reached the Champions League qualifying round in 2010 but were relegated that season after the departures of coach Gigi Delneri, director Beppe Marotta and the attacking duo of Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano, the latter of whom become involved in a public spat with the owner.

But the two later made their peace and Cassano, now at Inter Milan, told his club's official website: "Today is one of the most horrible and saddest days of my life. He'll be forever in my heart, and I'll always remember him." Garrone had often referred to Cassano as being "like a son".

The owner, who would have celebrated his 77th birthday on Wednesday, had recently taken a back seat in club affairs, allowing younger family members to conduct Sampdoria's day-to-day business, but remained a regular attendee at home games.

A statement issued on the club's official website on Monday said: "Gentleman, father, grandfather. Contractor, industrialist, sports manager. We just want to remember him in the Curva Sud with a scarf around his neck with his arms to the sky.

"Sampdoria fans want to remember him. Sampdoria fans want to thank him. Goodbye and thankyou."

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