Ex-Chelsea and Italy striker Gianluca Vialli dies aged 58

    MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 23: Gianluca Vialli of Italy looks on before the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between Italy and England at San Siro on September 23, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
    Gianluca Vialli died in London after suffering from pancreatic cancer (Getty)

    Former Chelsea and Italy striker Gianluca Vialli has died aged 58.

    Vialli had been suffering from pancreatic cancer and left his role as head of delegation with Italy’s national team in December.

    In November 2018, Vialli announced he had undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given the all-clear in April 2020 but in December 2021 he announced the cancer had returned.

    Vialli won Serie A with both Sampdoria and Juventus, while he also helped guide Juve to success in the Champions League in 1996.

    He then joined Chelsea just a few months later and helped the club win the FA Cup in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

    Vialli became Chelsea’s player-manager in 1998 – the first Italian to manage in the Premier League – and won both the League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. After finishing his playing career, Vialli guided Chelsea to victory in the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup in 2000.

    For Italy’s national team, he scored 16 goals in 59 appearances and was part of their 1986 and 1990 World Cup squads.

    A minute’s silence will be held before all games in Italy this weekend.

    Gianluca Vialli scored 40 goals in 88 games for Chelsea
    Gianluca Vialli scored 40 goals in 88 games for Chelsea (Gary M Prior/Allsport)

    A statement from the Italian Football Association [FIGC] on Friday read: ‘That photo on the Wembley lawn, that hug with Coach Roberto Mancini after Federico Chiesa’s goal against Austria in the round of 16 of the 2021 European Championship, will be one of the images of Gianluca Vialli that we will carry in our hearts forever.

    ‘Gianluca didn’t make it, he passed away today at the age of 58 after a long illness, always fought head-on, with dignity and with the whole blue family to give him strength in a moment of silent but enormous suffering.

    ‘Italian football is not only mourning the head of the delegation of the national team: a great man is mourning, who even before that had been a great striker and an appreciated coach.

    Gianluca Vialli, Delegation Chief of Italy celebrates with The Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team's victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Gianluca Vialli celebrates Italy’s win over England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley (Getty)
    Gianluca Vialli with Italy head coach Roberto Mancini in June
    Gianluca Vialli with Italy head coach Roberto Mancini in June (Getty)

    ‘The disappearance of Vialli, which comes a few days after that of Sinisa Mihajlovic, leaves an unfillable void in the whole family of Italian football.

    ‘To remind him, the Federation has arranged a minute’s silence to be observed before all the matches of the football championships scheduled for next weekend.’

    FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said: ‘I am deeply saddened.

    ‘I hoped until the end that he would be able to perform another miracle, yet I am comforted by the certainty that what he did for Italian football and the blue shirt will never be forgotten.

    ‘Without beating about the bush: Gianluca was a splendid person and he leaves a void that cannot be filled, in the national team and in all those who have appreciated his extraordinary human qualities.’

    More to follow…

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