Hearts cup-winning legend Stefano Salvatori dies at 49
Stefano Salvatori, who helped Hearts to Scottish Cup glory in 1998, has died at the age of 49 following an illness.
The Rome-born midfielder, who played for a host of Italian clubs including Parma, Fiorentina and AC Milan, joined Hearts in 1996 from Atalanta, with whom he won promotion to Serie A.
A key component of the Hearts side throughout the 1997/98 season, Salvatori - capped 13 times for Italy Under-21s - moved to Edinburgh just months after Hearts had lost to Rangers in the Scottish Cup final in May 1996, helping them exact revenge two years later.
One of the first Italian players to ply his trade in Scotland, he fell in love with Edinburgh and Hearts, later returning to Scotland in 2011 in a bid to find work.
He told The Scotsman at the time: “I am back in Scotland to work because football is my life. I am very happy to be back in this country.”
Salvatori continued to make an impact in Scottish football even after his retirement, recommending Manuel Pascali to Kilmarnock boss Jim Jefferies.
Salvatori made 84 appearances in total for Hearts in all competitions, scoring three goals.
He left Tynecastle in 1999 and finished his career in Italy’s lower divisions with Alzano Virescit, AlbinoLeffe and Legnano, hanging up his boots in 2002.