Former Milan and Fiorentina midfielder Stefano Salvatori, best known for his spell in Scotland with Heart of Midlothian, has passed away at the age of 49.
A former Italian Under-21 international, Salvatori was born just outside of Rome on 29 December, 1967.
Having started his career with local side Lodigiani, he joined the Milan youth system in 1985.
The midfielder was loaned out to Virescit Boccaleone, Parma and Fiorentina; helping the Viola to qualify for the UEFA Cup in 1989.
That earned Salvatori a return to his parent club, who had just won the European Cup under the guidance of Arrigo Sacchi.
The Rossoneri retained the trophy that season, with Salvatori coming on as a substitute in the first leg quarter-final against KV Mechelen.
That season also saw Salvatori start the UEFA Super Cup final against Barcelona, playing at centre-back in a 2-1 win over Barcelona.
Ultimately though Salvatori was never able to hold down a regular place in Sacchi’s team, and he returned to Fiorentina halfway through the 1990-91 season.
After 45 Serie A appearances for the Viola, which yielded one goal for the defensive midfielder, he moved on to Spal before helping Atalanta to promotion.
The Orobici also reached the 1996 Coppa Italia final, with Salvatori coming on as a substitute in both legs of a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Fiorentina.
It is not Bergamo or Florence where Salvatori is most fondly remembered, however, but Gorgie.
In September 1996 the tough-tackling midfielder joined Scottish outfit Heart of Midlothian, more commonly known as Hearts, helping them to finish fourth in the Scottish Premier League.
The following season proved even more successful, with the Jambos finishing third behind Celtic and Rangers.
Even more significantly, Hearts won the Scottish Cup by beating Rangers 2-1.
Salvatori played all 90 minutes, competing against compatriots Gennaro Gattuso, Sergio Porrini and Lorenzo Amoruso.
Following a total of 83 games for the Edinburgh club, including two goals, the midfielder returned to Italy in 1999 and wound down his career with Alzano Virescit, AlbinoLeffe and Legnano.
After trying his hand at coaching with Legnano and Voghera, Salvatori worked as an agent before emigrating to Australia in 2013.
The former Milan man worked in football schools Down Under, but sadly passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer.
image via heartsfc.co.uk