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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Italian football icon dies aged 58

Gianluca Vialli passed away after undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer

Football is mourning the loss of former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli, who has died aged 58 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Vialli had left his role as assistant coach of the Italian national team in December, citing the need for further treatment.

Chelsea were among the numerous clubs to pay tribute to Vialli on social media after his death was announced on Friday, writing: “You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football. Rest in peace.”

Elsewhere, the Italian FA has announced that a minute’s silence will be held in Vialli’s honor before matches this weekend, while Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni paid tribute in a message on Twitter.

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“We won’t forget your goals, your legendary bicycle kicks, the joy and emotion you gave the whole nation in that embrace with Mancini after the European Championship victory. But we will not forget above all the man. To God Gianluca Vialli, the Lion King on the pitch and in life,” wrote Meloni.

Vialli was a popular figure in England and Italy.


©  Darren Walsh / Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Vialli enjoyed a stellar career which began at hometown club Cremonese, before he joined Sampdoria and then Juventus – earning Serie A title success and European glory at both clubs, including winning the Champions League with Juve in 1996. 

Vialli moved to Chelsea in the same year, and helped the team win the FA Cup in his first season. He was later named player-manager, a role in which he guided the Stamford Bridge club to FA Cup and League Cup success, as well as winning the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

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At international level, Vialli made 59 appearances for Italy, scoring 16 times. He played at the 1986 and 1990 editions of the World Cup, as well as at the 1988 European Championships.

Vialli took up a role on the backroom staff of friend and former teammate Roberto Mancini with the Italian national team ahead of Euro 2020. The pair guided Italy to the title at the tournament, where they defeated England in the final at Wembley in a penalty shootout.

Vialli was initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017, and was later given the all-clear. However, he suffered a relapse in 2021, not long after Italy’s European triumph. Vialli was being treated in a London hospital at the time of his death, and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

As well as a career in which he was a prolific goalscorer, Vialli will be remembered for his charisma as a manager and whenever he appeared as a pundit in TV studios.

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