Gianluca Vialli was a former Chelsea striker and manager. He died at the age 58. Graeme Souness, his Sampdoria colleague, said that Vialli was “a beautiful soul” and “a wonderful footballer, and a warm person”.
In 2017, Vialli was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer. He revealed that he had been given all clear in 2020, but was again diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021.
Sky Sports’ Souness said: “People will talk about his remarkable football ability, and rightly so, but more importantly, what a human being he is.” ”
Former Scotland defender Souness said: “My condolences to his family – the children were blessed to have had a dad such as that, and his wife was blessed with a man like him.
He was a joy to be with. He was a great guy, full of mischief and a fantastic footballer, as well as a warm person.
“Forget football, he was just an amazing soul. ”
Vialli played 59 times for Italy and left his role as a national team player in December 2022 to concentrate on his health.
After being promoted to Italy’s backroom team by Roberto Mancini, a former Sampdoria teammate, he helped the Azzurri win Euro 2020 at Wembley in June 2021.
It was confirmed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), that there will be a minute of silence in memory Vialli before any Italian matches this weekend.
Gabriele Gravina, FIGC president, stated that Gianluca was “a remarkable person and he leaves an void that cannot been filled.”
“I hoped that he would perform another miracle. But I feel comforted knowing that the miracle he performed for Italian football and the blue shirt would never be forgotten. ”
A FIGC statement said: “That photo taken on Wembley Law, the hug with Mancini following Federico Chiesa’s goal against Austria in round 16 of the 2021 European Championship will be one image of Vialli we will always treasure.” ”
Vialli made it to Italy in 1985 after he joined Sampdoria. He would go on to win the Serie A title as well as the European Cup Winner’s Cup over eight seasons.
Sampdoria stated: “We won’t forget your 141 goals overhead kicks, cashmere shirts and earring, platinum blonde hair, or Ultras bomber jacket.
“You gave us so many, and we gave you so many: it was love, mutual, infinite. It is a love that will never die with you.
Sampdoria reached the 1992 European Cup final thanks to Vialli. However, after losing to Barcelona, Vialli moved to Juventus to claim a world record of PS12m. Vialli was with Juve for four seasons, winning the Champions League and Uefa Cup titles.
Juve stated: “We loved every aspect of you, absolutely everything. Your smile, being a star and a leader at the same pitch, your charming swashbuckling manner, your culture and your class. You showed your class until the end in the black-and-white stripes. ”
Vialli was a free transfer to Chelsea in 1996. He became player-manager in 1998, the first Italian to manage a Premier League team.
He was also instrumental in leading Chelsea to the 2000 FA Cup final victory and Charity Shield, but was fired early in the next season due to poor performance.
Chelsea stated: “Luca is a brilliant striker, a trophy winning manager, and a remarkable man. His place in the Chelsea pantheon of greats is certain. He will be greatly missed. ”
Vialli was then appointed manager of Watford in 2001-02, when it was still in the second tier. However, he was fired after the Hornets finished 14th.
‘My captain, forever’ – Vialli tributes
Vialli’s former teammates and managers led the tributes.
Gianfranco Zoli, both of whom played with Vialli when he was Chelsea manager said that they had shared many memorable moments and won many matches together.
“For the love and joy of our ball, we have clashed many times. We have never taken anyone in their stride, but we always treated them with the utmost respect. We were, at the end, just two Italian boys and one ball. ”
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti , who played with Vialli in Italy’s football match, wrote in Italian: “Ciao mio” – Thank you, my friend.
Alessandro del Piero was a champion league winner with Vialli with Juventus. He posted: “Our captain. My captain. Forever.”
Gullit, a former Blues manager, posted an Instagram photo of Vialli and himself on the day he signed with Chelsea in 1996. The caption was: “RIP Gianluca Vialli. We will miss your presence. ”
Tottenham assistant Cristian Sterni claimed that Antonio Conte, a fellow Italian, was upset by the news and said Vialli was an important person who had “opened the door” for Italian managers in the Premier League.
He was not only a great player, but he was also a great person. Stellini stated that he taught us many things. He was a great player, but he also spoke with everyone.
“Now, we must say thanks to Vialli because he opened the door for us and allowed us to understand how important it is for football in Europe to create and open doors. Also, the Premier League was improved by Italian managers so we did it together. It’s a wonderful thing. ”
Gary Lineker, BBC Match of the Day presenter, wrote on Twitter: “Deeply saddened to learn that Gianluca vialli has died. One of the most loving people you will ever meet. He was a truly remarkable footballer and will be greatly missed. Luca, RIP. ”
John Terry, a former Chelsea captain, tweeted: “Heartbroken. RIP Luca. A true legend and a great man. Your gift of my debut will be a part of my life forever. ”
Alan Shearer, former England captain tweeted: “RIP Gianluca VIalli. He was a beautiful, gentle man and a great player. ”
Ex-England striker Peter Crouch posted on Twitter, “I’m truly gutted about this.” Sampdoria away and home shirts were my thanks to him. I tried to imitate his volleys in the park. He was a wonderful man when I met him. Rip”
Vialli was described by the Chelsea Supporters’ trust as a “foundational cornerstone” on which the club built a new era of trophy-filled glory.
The statement said: “He was loved and respected by all at our football club. Thank you, Gianluca. We will be missing you. ”
Chief Executive Richard Bevan, League Managers’ Association, described Vialli “as one of the kindest men we have ever encountered in the sport world”.
Aleksander Ceferin is president of Uefa European Football’s governing body. He said: “All football family members will feel real pain, and a profound dismay.
“Gianluca wasn’t just a champion. He was kind, measured and respectful, and above all, he was courageous in life, as he taught us through his brave fight against cancer.
We will forever remember his radiant smile at all the trophies he won, up to the last image where he hugged Roberto Mancini at Wembley pitch – an expression of joy at the most brilliant and beautiful of all triumphs. He will be missed greatly. ”