Milan have paid an emotional tribute to former owner Silvio Berlusconi, who has died at the age of 86. 

A colourful character, Berlusconi was most well known for being Italy's prime minister for three spells between 1994 and 2011. 

However, he was also a heavyweight in the sporting world, owning Milan from 1986 to 2017, a period that saw the Rossoneri win eight Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues. 

In a heartfelt statement, Milan said: "Deeply saddened, AC Milan grieves the passing of the unforgettable Silvio Berlusconi and wishes to reach out to his family, associates and most cherished friends to share our sympathies.

"'Tomorrow, we will dream of new ambitions, create new challenges and seek new victories. Which will represent the good, the strong and the true that lies inside us, in all of us who shared this adventure of binding our lives to a dream called Milan.'

"Thank you President. Always with us."

Carlo Ancelotti played and managed for the club during Berlusconi's tenure, enjoying rich success both on the pitch and in the dugout. 

Silvio Berlusconi with Milan players and staff after their Champions League triumph in 2007
Silvio Berlusconi presided over eight Serie A titles and five Champions League triumphs at Milan

Following news of Berlusconi's death, the current Real Madrid boss tweeted: "Today's sadness doesn't erase the happy moments spent together. 

"There remains infinite gratitude to the president, but above all to a wry, loyal, intelligent, sincere man, fundamental in my adventure as a football player first, and then as a coach. Thank you President."

Paolo Maldini, Milan's record appearance maker during an extraodinary one-club career that spanned 25 seasons, also offered his condolences. 

In an Instagram post, he said: "A genius, visionary and dreamer leaves us, but above all a friend who changed the history of our Italy.

"Thank you for everything President. You made all of us Milan fans live a dream of more than 30 years. No-one will ever be like you."

Alessandro Nesta, who played alongside Maldini for seven years in a formidable defence, tweeted: "There are not enough words to convey esteem and gratitude. Rest in peace great President."

Gennaro Gattuso, the tigerish midfielder who helped establish Milan as one of the great sides of the Noughties, said: "It's a sad day. He was a loyal, consistent man with a huge heart. 

"Peace to his soul. There is great grief but also great memories on my part. I will carry them in my heart."

Alessandro Nesta controls the ball for Milan against Viktoria Plzen
Alessandro Nesta was among many former Milan players to pay tribute to Silvio Berlusconi

And Filippo Inzaghi, who scored 126 goals in 300 Milan appearances, wrote: "I will forever carry in my heart his intelligence, his ability to always surroud himself with sound and insightful people, his exuberance and hunger for victory: the secrets of his success!

"Together we have written many special pages of Italian football and for me he will always remain the only great president."

After selling Milan, Berlusconi bought nearby club Monza in 2018 and helped the Biancorossi to two promotions in three seasons, taking them into Serie A last term for the first time in their history as they went on to comfortably stay up. 

Berlusconi died on Monday in hospital after being treated for a lung infection and leukaemia. His funeral will be held on Wednesday at Milan Cathedral.