Ex-Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli passes away aged 58 following long-running battle with cancer
The football world is in mourning once more after it was announced that former Juventus and Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli has passed away at the age of 58.
Following on from the untimely deaths of Pele and Sinisa Mihajlovic, another legend of the game has sadly lost his long-running battle with cancer.
Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer for a second time in 2021, having previously been given the all-clear in April 2020 following a 17-month struggle against the same condition.
He was still working in football as recently as the summer of 2021, taking up a role as delegation chief alongside close friend Roberto Mancini as Italy savoured glory at Euro 2020.
Born in Cremona, Vialli began his playing career with local side Cremonese and helped them to win promotion into Serie B before attracting attention from clubs higher up Italy’s football pyramid.
Sampdoria bought into his obvious potential in 1984, with a productive partnership struck up with Mancini, with the pair nicknamed ‘The Goal Twins’ as they inspired a historic Serie A title triumph in 1990-91.
Vialli also won three Italian Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Samp, while reaching the 1992 European Cup final, before making a record-breaking £12.5 million transfer to Juventus.
Another Serie A crown, Italian Cup and UEFA Cup were captured in Turin, but the undoubted highlight of a four-year stint with the Bianconeri came when beating Ajax in the 1996 Champions League final.
Ruud Gullit tempted Vialli to Chelsea in 1996, as part of an exciting rebuild at Stamford Bridge, with the Italian named player-manager in 1998 at the age of 33 when the Dutch tactician was relieved of his duties.
Vialli guided the Blues to League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup glory and retired from playing in 1999 with 259 club goals to his name from 673 appearances.
As a manager, Vialli helped Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph in the last final played at the old Wembley Stadium in 2000, but was sacked just five games into the 2000-01 campaign.
He had a brief spell as boss at Watford during the 2001-02 season, but turned his attentions to punditry after leaving Vicarage Road.
At international level, Vialli earned 59 caps for Italy, scoring 16 goals. He was named in the team of the tournament at Euro ‘88 and helped Italy to the World Cup semi-finals on home soil in 1990.