Gianluca Vialli, who was a great football player for Italy, died at the age of 58. He had pancreatic cancer, which he called his “unwelcome travel companion” on his “journey.”
After talking with his oncologists, Vialli said in December that he was leaving his job with the Italian national federation because of his health.
Vialli had been fighting cancer in public for many years. He first said he had been treated in 2018, but in an interview with an Italian newspaper, he said he was “very well.”
In 2019, he got the disease again quickly, and in 2020, his old team, Chelsea, said he had been “given the all-clear.” The former football player said last year that the disease had come back.
Vialli played for the Italian teams Sampdoria and Juventus and the English Premier League team Chelsea. He also played for Italy 59 times. At the 1990 World Cup, he played for Italy, which came in third place.
After short stints as manager at Chelsea and Watford, Vialli worked with Roberto Mancini, a former teammate at Sampdoria, on the staff of the Italy national team. Together, they won Euro 2020.
After Italy beat England in the final on penalty kicks, Italy defender Alessandro Florenzi spoke about Vialli. “Everybody needs to know this. We have among us an example that teaches us how to live, in any moment, in any situation,” Florenzi said, per ESPN.
You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football.
Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli. 💙 pic.twitter.com/mNJPDkCSYO
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 6, 2023
“And I’m talking about Gianluca Vialli, For us, he’s special. Without him, and without Mancini and the other coaches, this victory would mean nothing. He is a living example. I know he’ll get angry, but I just had to say it.”
Vialli’s big break came in 1984 when he joined Sampdoria. Before that, he played in Italy’s lower leagues for Cremonese in 1980.
Together with Mancini, the two forwards were known as “I Gemelli del Gol,” which means “the goal twins.” This was the best time in the club’s history.
In an interview with Sky Sports in 2019, Vialli said that the two got along so well on the field because they “liked each other as people.” “We were different, but we were getting on extremely well,” Vialli told Sky Sports, “which helps a lot, I think.”
“And then on the pitch, we were very complementary… when you’ve got two strikers who don’t care whether the other striker is scoring three and you’re not scoring any, it’s fantastic because the only thing that we wanted was for the team to win.”
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Vialli scored the most goals for Sampdoria when they won their first Serie A title in 1991. They also won the Italian Cup three times and came in second place to Barcelona in the European Cup in 1992.
In 1992, Vialli moved to the Italian team Juventus for £12 million, which was a world record at the time. During his four years with the Turin club, Vialli had even more success. He won the Serie A title again, as well as the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He is still the last captain of Juventus to win the Champions League, which he said is very important to him.
“For me, it’s very important to be the last captain of Juventus to have lifted the Champions League because all the fans still remember that, I still remember that and they see me as the last captain of a very successful Italian side in Europe,” Vialli told Sky Sports in 2015 ahead of the Champions League final between Juventus and Barcelona.
A wonderful player, manager and person against whom it was a privilege to compete.
Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli. pic.twitter.com/qt4ZpUMtP3
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 6, 2023
“On the one hand, I want Juventus to win because I’ve got so many friends there. But on the other hand, it would be annoying to see someone taking my place.”
“Having said that, to have my picture lifting the cup next to Gaetano Scirea – a legendary Juventus defender, probably one of the best Italian defenders of all time – and Gianluigi Buffon, it will be like having your painting hanging next to a Picasso and a Van Gogh.”
Vialli moved to England in 1996 to play for Chelsea. In his first year there, he won the FA Cup, and the next year he was named player manager.
In 1999, Vialli stopped playing professional football to focus on his job as a manager. Before he was fired from Chelsea in 2000, he won the FA Cup and the League Cup as the team’s manager.
After that, he was the manager of Watford for a short time. He then spent many years as a football commentator and analyst. After a year-long fight with pancreatic cancer, Vialli said in 2018 that he was “fine.”
More sad news.. gone WAY too soon RIP Gianluca Vialli 💔❤️M pic.twitter.com/npsw3bceAE
— Simply Red (@SimplyRedHQ) January 6, 2023
After he was first told he had cancer, Vialli said he felt “shame” about it. He also said he would wear a sweater under his shirt so no one would notice how his body was changing.
He called cancer “an unwelcome travel companion” in his book, ‘Goals: Inspirational Stories to Help Tackle Life’s Challenges.’ “I don’t see this as a battle,” he wrote.
“I am not a warrior. I am not fighting cancer: it’s too strong an enemy and I would not stand a chance. I am a man who is on a journey and cancer has joined me on that journey… my goal is to keep walking, keep moving until he’s had enough and leaves me alone.”
After fighting pancreatic cancer for 17 months, Vialli was given the all-clear in 2020, according to an announcement from his old team, Chelsea. Vialli talked about the hard times he went through at the time.
“Regaining my health means seeing myself in the mirror again, seeing the hair grow, not having to draw eyebrows on with a pencil,” he said. “It can appear strange in this moment (of the pandemic), compared to many others I feel very fortunate.”
In 2021, he said he was fighting pancreatic cancer again because it had returned. In December 2022, doctors told him to step down from his job with the Italian national federation… Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.