Football world mourns loss of Italian icon at 58 after cancer battle


Gianluca Vialli, the former Italy striker who helped both Sampdoria and Juventus win Serie A and European trophies before becoming a player-manager at Chelsea, has died. He was 58.

The Italian soccer federation confirmed Vialli’s death on Friday evening AEDT.

Vialli announced in 2018 that he had overcome a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer but said in December 2021 that the disease had returned.

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With his condition worsening, Vialli announced in mid-December that he was temporarily stepping down from his role as the delegation chief for Italy’s national team.

Vialli had been appointed delegation chief under Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini, a long-time friend and former teammate.

Vialli and Mancini were known as the “gemelli del gol”, or “goal twins”, when they played together at Sampdoria, leading the club based in Genoa to its only Serie A title in 1991 and its only European title in 1990 with the Cup Winners’ Cup, plus four Italian Cup trophies.

Vialli and Mancini also led Sampdoria to the 1992 European Cup final, which it lost to Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.

As delegation chief, Vialli reunited with Mancini to help Italy win the European Championship by beating England in a penalty shootout at Wembley last year.

“We have a relationship that goes way beyond friendship,” Mancini said during the Euros.

“He’s like a true brother to me.”

Vialli’s death comes three weeks after the premature passing of another Serie A great, Siniša Mihajlović, who died after a long battle with leukaemia. Mihajlović also played with Mancini at Sampdoria after Vialli left the club for Juventus.

Vialli won another Serie A title at Juventus and also raised the Champions League and UEFA Cup trophies with the Bianconeri.

Vialli played for Italy’s national team from 1985-1992, making 59 appearances and scoring 16 goals.

Vialli ended his playing career while also managing Chelsea, leading the London club to FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup titles.

He continued to live in London after moving on from Chelsea into TV commentary and other ventures.

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