Ex-Chelsea, Juventus star Gianluca Vialli dies at 58

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the former Chelsea And Juventus Star Gianluca Vialli has died aged 58 after a long battle with cancer.

Vialy was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and a second time in 2021.

A statement from his family on Friday said: “Surrounded by his family, he died last night with courage and dignity after a five-year illness.

“We thank the many who supported him with their love over the years. His memory and his example will live forever in our hearts.”

Vialli was part of the coaching staff that led Italy for Euro 2020 success, but left his role with the national team in December to undergo further treatment.

“I know I probably won’t die of old age, I hope to live as long as possible, but I feel more fragile than ever,” Vialli said in a Netflix documentary airing in March 2022.

He described cancer as “a traveling companion” that he hoped would eventually leave him alone after testing his mettle. “Illness can teach you a lot about who you are, and push you to go beyond the way we live,” she said.

Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina said: “Gianluca was a wonderful person and leaves an irreparable void in the national team and among those who admired his extraordinary human qualities.”

Vialli first emerged as a young player with his local team Cremonese in Italy’s third and second tiers.

He moved to Sampdoria in 1984 and helped the club enjoy the most successful period in its history, winning the Italian Cup three times. Vialli scored twice as Sampdoria beat Anderlecht 2-0 to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1990.

He also played a major role in 1991 when Sampdoria claimed their first and only Serie A league title with 19 goals.

Vialli left the Genoa-based club for Juventus in the summer of 1992, where after a slow start he regained his goalscoring touch and helped the Turin giants win the Italian League in 1995 and the Champions League the following season.

He joined London club Chelsea on a free transfer in 1996 and became player-manager two years later when Dutchman Ruud Gullit was sacked.

Under Vialli, Chelsea won the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998 and the FA Cup two years before he was also sacked.

His last managerial role was in charge of Watford in the English second tier in 2001–2002.

After leaving team management, Vialli co-founded the sports investment firm TFC Capital.

In October 2019, Vialli was appointed head of Italy’s new delegation, meaning he reunited with national coach Roberto Mancini, a lifelong friend and strike partner when they both played for Sampdoria, where they were known as the “Goal Twins”.

Mancini and Vialli led the Italians to Euro 2020, which was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lifting the trophy at Wembley Stadium. Their Sampdoria side lost the European Cup final to Barcelona at the same venue 29 years ago.

The pair celebrated with a tearful embrace that was “more beautiful than the hug we gave each other when I passed him the ball and he scored,” Vialli said in a TV interview with Italy’s RAI in November.

Vialli is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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