Italian football great Gianluca Vialli passed away at the age of 58 years old after a long and hard battle with pancreatic cancer. Vialli said in December that he was resigning from his position as the head of the Italian national federation to focus on his health and speak with oncologists. This was not the first time Vialli had publicly struggled with cancer. He first announced he had received treatment in 2018 but later suffered another bout in 2019. Chelsea, his former team, announced in 2020 that he got the all-clear, but Vialli later announced that the disease had returned.
Throughout his career, Vialli played for Italian clubs Sampdoria and Juventus, as well as English Premier League (EPL) team Chelsea, and earned 59 caps for the Italian national team. He was also a part of the Italy team that placed third in the 1990 World Cup. After brief managerial stints at Chelsea and Watford, Vialli joined the backroom staff for the Italian national team, where he worked alongside his former Sampdoria teammate Roberto Mancini. Together, they won Euro 2020. Following Italy’s victory over England in the final, Italy defender Alessandro Florenzi paid tribute to Vialli, calling him a “living example.”
Vialli’s Football Club Career
Vialli began his football club career at Cremonese in 1980 in Italy’s lower leagues but really made a name for himself when he joined Sampdoria in 1984. Alongside Mancini, the two earned the nickname “I Gemelli del Gol” or “the goal twins” and helped lead the club to its most successful period in history. Vialli was the top scorer for the Sampdoria team that won its first Serie A title in 1991, and also won the Italian Cup three times and finished as runner-up in the European Cup in 1992.
When Vialli signed with Italian powerhouse Juventus in 1992, the club paid a then-record £12 million ($14.57 million) for his services. With the Turin-based club, he spent four seasons and won the Serie A title twice more, the Champions League once, and the UEFA Cup once. Vialli remains the last Juventus captain to lift the Champions League trophy, something he said held great personal significance for him. In 1996, Vialli transferred to Chelsea, where he won the FA Football Cup in his first season and was the player-manager in the following season.