Italian football was in mourning on Friday morning as former Italy, Sampdoria and Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli died after losing his long-standing battle with pancreatic cancer.
Just a few days from the death of two football icons such as Pelé and Sinisa Mihajlovic, world football lost another charismatic figure as the 58-year-old Vialli passed away in a hospital in London.
Late last month, the former Italy forward was forced to take a break from his role within the Italy national team set-up to continue his long-standing battle with pancreatic cancer as his condition worsened.
Unfortunately, Vialli failed to win the battle against pancreatic cancer that started in 2017.
Vialli was first diagnosed with the illness two years before becoming Italy’s delegation chief, providing support to old friend Roberto Mancini with whom he terrorised opposition defences in Serie A during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Nicknamed “the goal twins”, strikers Vialli and Mancini won the 1991 league title, the Cup Winners’ Cup, and three Italian Cups with Sampdoria.
Samp also came close to winning the European Cup in 1992, narrowly losing 1-0 to Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona at Wembley.
He then won Serie A and the Champions League with Juventus before moving to Chelsea in 1996, where he was among the first wave of foreign stars who helped revolutionise the Premier League.
He played for the Blues until 1999, helping them to win the FA Cup in 1997 and being appointed player-manager following the sacking of Ruud Gullit in 1998.
Vialli went on to lead Chelsea to League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup glory that year, winning the FA Cup again in 2000 before being sacked early the following season.
He later became a respected pundit on Italian television before joining the Italy delegation, his tearful embrace with Mancini on the Wembley pitch one of the iconic images of Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.
Vialli scored 16 goals in 59 matches for Italy but failed to replicate his often exceptional club form on the international stage.
At the height of his powers, he flopped at the 1990 World Cup on home soil, shoved aside early on to make space for Roberto Baggio and Toto Schillacci, and his Italy career never really recovered.
At one point he went over two years without scoring a goal for Italy, and his final match for the national team came in 1992 when he was still in his late 20s.
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