‘A Gorgeous Soul’ – Football Pays Fulsome Tributes To Great Italian Striker Gianluca Vialli

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Gianluca Vialli - FIGC Italian football federation

There is enormous sadness within football circles following the news of the death of the great Italian football centre-forward Gianluca Vialli who’s life has sadly been cut short.

Vialli has died at the relatively young age of 58 following a brave battle against pancreatic cancer, with the best wishes and huge sadness of the football world clear for his family to take some consolation in.

He began his career with his hometown side Cremonese, before his star turn in Serie A for both Sampdoria and Juventus whom he skippered to a Champions League title in 1996.

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Vialli also won Serie A with Juventus and the European Cup Winners’ Cup during eight seasons with Sampdoria as player where he formed a lethal partnership with current Italian boss Roberto Mancini. He scored 275 goals in 733 games for club and country.

It was his move to Chelsea that enthused him to a wider football public where he eventually became player-manager.

He featured in 59 appearances for his native Italy, playing in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals. In their home finals in ’90 he was a sub as the Azzurri saw off the Republic of Ireland in the quarter-finals 1-0 in Rome.

He became the first Italian to manage a Premier League manager and led Chelsea to League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup titles, as well as leading the Blues to FA Cup glory in 2000.

Vialli had recently begun to heavily focus on his treatment for pancreatic cancer. He’d undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy in November 2018, having been diagnosed with cancer one year earlier.

He was initially given the all-clear in April 2020, but in December 2021 he announced the disease had returned.

Graeme Souness, who played with Vialli at Sampdoria, paid an emotional tribute on Sky Sports:

I can’t tell you how good a guy he was. Forget football, he was just a gorgeous soul. He was just a truly nice human being.

He was just fabulous to be around. He was such a fun-loving guy, full of mischief, wonderful footballer and a warm human being. People will say things about his magnificent football ability, and correctly so, but above all that what a human being. My condolence go to his family – the kids were blessed to have a dad like that, his wife was blessed to be married to a man like that.”

Sampdoria tribute was heart wrenching “You gave us so much, we gave you so much: yes, it was love, reciprocal, infinite. A love that will not die today with you.
We will continue to love and adore you because – as you well know – you are better than Pele. And because, despite everything, our beautiful season is destined to never end.”
Watford, who Vialli managed in the 2001-02 season, wrote: “All at Watford FC are saddened to learn of the passing of our former manager Gianluca Vialli. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”