‘A world-class player and an even better person’ – Gianluca Vialli’s former Chelsea teammate Scott Minto breaks down in tears during emotional tribute to Blues legend

    Former Chelsea player Scott Minto broke down in tears during an emotional tribute to the late Gianluca Vialli.

    Blues legend Vialli has died, aged 58, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

    For English football fans, Vialli is synonymous with Chelsea

    Popperfoto – Getty

    For English football fans, Vialli is synonymous with Chelsea

    The iconic Italy striker spent four glittering years at Stamford Bridge, first as a player and then as a manager.

    Vialli helped Chelsea lift the League Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup twice, establishing himself as one of the most fondly-remembered figures in the club’s history.

    But beyond the superstar striker who arrived from Italy following huge success with Sampdoria and Juventus, Vialli left a lasting impression on everyone at Chelsea with his class as a person.

    Ex-Blues left-back Minto, who played alongside Vialli in the FA Cup winning team of 1996/97, joined talkSPORT Breakfast to pay tribute to his former teammate.

    “I’ve got tears,” Minto said, struggling to find the words.

    “It’s a very emotional time because it’s not just about him as a player, it’s about the person – and he was just an incredible person.

    He inspired a period of great success at Stamford Bridge

    Popperfoto – Getty

    He inspired a period of great success at Stamford Bridge

    “He came to Chelsea as this superstar and yet he was just one of the lads. He didn’t really speak English, first of all.

    “He’d have these English books for children, like ‘The Cat Jumped Over the Dog’. We would all look at each other, but within six months, he was fluent.

    “His determination just showed in everything. And his class… he was such a classy guy.”

    Minto added: “A lot of footballers are not necessarily brought up with lots of money. His family were very rich, so that hunger is different.

    Minto was lucky enough to play alongside Vialli and call him a friend

    Getty

    Minto was lucky enough to play alongside Vialli and call him a friend

    “To be at the top in football, when you don’t need that financially, just shows the pure love of football that he had.

    “He came from the upper-classes and still became the world-class player he was. The charisma he had… he walked into a room and you just knew he was there.

    “That smile he had was amazing. I was watching an Italy game at the Euros and it was him and Roberto Mancini. They looked a million dollars. How they dressed, how they looked, how they came across.

    “I pressed pause on the TV and I looked down at my phone to see if I still had his number. I hadn’t been in contact with him for years. I texted him and within ten minutes, he got back to me.

    Vialli was known for his class off the pitch

    Getty

    Vialli was known for his class off the pitch

    “I said, ‘This is the best-looking management team I’ve ever seen’. We kept in contact during the Euros and spoke about how we wanted it to be an England vs Italy final.

    “He didn’t have to do that, with all the pressures, considering I hadn’t seen him in years. He was just such a classy guy as well as an incredible footballer.”

    Minto continued: “Luca was just an incredible guy in the sense that he knew how good he was and who he was in the stature of world football, but he would talk to you like he was one of your mates and you’d only just met him.

    “He had that humbleness as well as the charisma and not many people have that.

    Vialli will go down in history as one of Chelsea’s most iconic players

    Getty

    Vialli will go down in history as one of Chelsea’s most iconic players

    “For him to die at the age he has is just horrific.

    “To have said that I was in the same team as Vialli brings me great pride.

    “But for him to get back to me every time I got in touch shows the class of the guy.

    “A world-class player and an even better person.”

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