Barack Obama mourns death of Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney

Former President Barack Obama mourned the passing of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney on Thursday.

Obama released a statement on Thursday night after the team announced Rooney's passing, noting the former ambassador was "a great friend" of his.

"But more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen, and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage," Obama said.

RELATED: Dan Rooney through the years

Obama named Rooney the U.S. ambassador to Ireland in 2009, and said he knew Rooney would do a "wonderful job" in that role.

"But naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland think fondly of him today," Obama said in his statement. "And I know the people of Pittsburgh, who loved him not only for the Super Bowl championships he brought as the owner of the Steelers, but for his generosity of spirit, mourn his passing today."

The 44th American president added that he and former first lady Michelle Obama offered their condolences to Rooney's family, who he referred to as "some of the most gracious and thoughtful people we know -- even as we celebrate the life of Dan Rooney: a championship-caliber good man."