Gianluca Vialli, the former Italy and Chelsea striker, has died aged 58 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Vialli was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and then a second time in 2021, shortly after Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.
He left his role in Italy in December, citing his need to undergo treatment for the illness.
Vialli played for Cremonese, Sampdoria and Juventus in the 1980s and 1990s before joining Chelsea in 1996.
In 1998 he became player-manager of the Blues following the departure of Ruud Gullit and that year he led the club to League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup glory.
Vialli ended his playing career at the end of the 1998-99 season to focus on management and Chelsea would go on to win the FA Cup and the Charity Shield in 2000 under the Italian, before being sacked at the start of the season 2000-01.
Vialli played 59 times for Italy, scoring 16 goals, and had most recently been the head of delegation for the national team. As part of Italy’s backroom staff, the Azzurri won Euro 2020 with victory over England at Wembley in July 2021.
The Italian Football Federation said all matches this weekend under its jurisdiction would be preceded by a minute’s silence to honor Vialli’s life.
Chelsea: a legend for all of football
Vialli joined Chelsea in the summer of 1996, shortly after captaining Juventus to Champions League glory.
The club called him a “Chelsea legend… loved by the fans, players and staff at Stamford Bridge”.
Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali said in a statement: “This is truly a terrible day for Chelsea Football Club. Gianluca’s legend will live on at Stamford Bridge. His impact as a player , coach and, above all, as a player. person, will be written forever throughout the history of our club.”
Sampdoria: Goodbye, Luca
Former club Sampdoria, where Vialli played for eight years between 1984 and 1992 making more than 200 appearances, posted a simple farewell message on his club’s Twitter account, calling him “one of us” .
Juventus: Such an intense sense of loss
“We have always been with you, Gianluca,” read a statement on Juventus’ official website. He continued: “Since you arrived in 1992, when it was love at first sight.
“We loved everything about you, absolutely everything: your smile, you are a star and a leader at the same time, on the field and in the dressing room.”
Watford saddened by loss of former manager
Current Watford manager Slaven Bilic said in tribute: “It’s a sad day. He was part of our club and the club should be proud that one of football’s legends was with Watford.”
Martin Tyler: Vialli is an icon who was respected
Sky Sports Soccer commentator Martin Tyler says Vialli was an icon, especially among the players he played with, and that respect translated into his years as a coach and trainer.
He said: “He had the character to face adversity. He was very much an icon for the players [at Chelsea]most of whom had played with him.
“He was respected and cared about very much. He was the type of man you would really fight for – the trophies won showed that.”
Souness: “A Precious Soul”
Sky Sports Pundit Graeme Souness paid tribute to his friend and former Sampdoria team-mate: “I can’t tell you what a good lad he was. Forget football, he was just a beautiful soul, he was a really nice human being .
“I went to Italy when I was 31 and he was 20 and he was fabulous to be around. He was such a funny guy, full of mischief, such a warm individual and a fabulous player.”