MILAN (AFP) – Fabrizio Miccoli, a former Italy international footballer, has been sentenced to prison for his role in the extortion of a nightclub owner along with a son of a reputed Sicilian Mafia boss.

Italy’s highest court of appeal confirmed to AFP that Miccoli’s initial 2017 conviction and sentence had been upheld, meaning three years and six months in prison for trying to help a friend recover a €12,000 (S$18,400) debt by using a “Mafia method”.

The Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that the 42-year-old has handed himself in at Rovigo prison, around 60km from Venice.

Miccoli’s sentence – already upheld in an initial appeal in January last year – relates to an affair that dates back to 2010.

The court ruled that the then-captain of Palermo contacted Mauro Lauricella, son of alleged mob boss Antonino Lauricella, to try to reclaim the owed money from the owner of a club located outside Palermo.

The pair were judged to have used violence and threats in order to recover the debt for Giorgio Gasparini, a former physio at Palermo.

Lauricella junior was sentenced last month to seven years in prison for his role in the crime by the same appeals court.

Around the time the accusations came to light in 2013, Italian daily La Repubblica revealed wiretapped conversations in which Miccoli called murdered anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone “filth”.

Falcone, a national hero in Italy for the way he and long-time friend Paolo Borsellino fought the Sicilian Mafia, was killed along with his wife and three police escorts in a massive bomb blast in Capaci, outside Palermo in 1992.

He and Borsellino, who was also assassinated by the Mafia in another bomb attack only a few weeks later, convicted over 300 mobsters in Italy’s first “Maxi Trial”, which ended in early 1992.

Striker Miccoli is Palermo’s all-time top goalscorer and also played for Juventus and Fiorentina in Serie A.

He played 10 times for Italy in 2003 and 2004, netting twice.