Gianluca Vialli dead – Chelsea and Italy legend dies aged 58 after battle with cancer | The Sun
6th January 2023

CHELSEA legend Gianluca Vialli has died at the age of 58 following a battle with cancer.

Vialli, who enjoyed a glittering career with Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea and earned 59 caps for Italy, was diagnosed in 2017.



The Italian was given the all-clear in 2020 but sadly his pancreatic cancer returned a year later.

Last month he was forced to step away from his role with the Italian national team.

Vialli’s mother, 87, rushed to be by his side in a London hospital after his condition reportedly worsened at the end of December.

The ex-Chelsea striker was one of English football's most successful and popular European imports.

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During a 16-year playing career in Italy, Vialli won every major trophy on offer, including Serie A titles with Sampdoria (1991) and Juventus (1995), the Champions League with the latter in 1996, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

He was also a four-time Coppa Italia winner.

Vialli scored 16 goals in 59 appearances for Italy and featured in the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, while his £12.5million transfer from Sampdoria to Juventus in 1992 was a world record fee at the time.

In 1996, Dutch great Ruud Gullit, then the Chelsea manager, lured Vialli to Stamford Bridge and the trophies continued to mount up.

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At the end of the Italian's first season in England he lifted the FA Cup and flourished at the London club after the Dutchman's exit.

The following season, now as player-manager, Vialli led Chelsea to glory in both the League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.

Aged just 33 years and 308 days, Vialli was then the youngest manager to win a major European title.

He guided Chelsea to a third-placed Premier League finish in 1998-99, his last campaign as a player, and bowed out with the winning goal in a 2-1 home win over Derby.

He won his fifth major trophy in less than three years in charge of Chelsea when they won the FA Cup in 2000, becoming the club's most successful manager at the time, before being sacked five games into the following season.

ChelseaFC today paid tribute to Vialli, describing him as a "legend".

The club tweeted: "You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli."

Despite his roaring success at Chelsea, Vialli spent most of his career at Sampdoria.

He scored 141 goals in 327 games across eight seasons for the Italians, helping them to a Serie A title, three Italian Cups and the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup.

Sampdoria was Vialli’s second club after Cremonense, who he left in 1984 after 25 goals in 113 games.

Vialli’s third side was Juventus, after he joined in 1992.

The ex-forward netted 53 times in 145 games while winning one title, one Italian Cup, a Uefa Cup and one Champions League.

Vialli then signed for Chelsea in 1996 and scored 40 goals in 88 games, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup.

He made his final appearance in 1999, but continued managing Chelsea after becoming player-manager the year before.

'A FABULOUS CAREER & A GREAT FELLA'

Vialli lasted until 2000, when he was sacked just five games into the new season.

His one and only other managerial role came in 2001 at Watford, where he spent a single year before being axed.

Viallii's latest venture saw him working as delegation chief with Italy, having scored 16 goals in 59 games for his country as a player.

He was part of Roberto Mancini’s backroom which won Euro 2020 against England, but he was forced to step away in December to deal with his cancer battle.

In a Netflix documentary aired in March 2022, Vialli said: "I know that I probably will not die of old age, I hope to live as long as possible, but I feel much more fragile than before."

He described cancer as "a travel companion" that he hoped would eventually leave him in peace, after testing his mettle.

Vialli added: "Illness can teach a lot about who you are, and can push you to go beyond the superficial way in which we live."

Tributes to the ex-Chelsea star have poured in as the football world mourns.

Chris Kamara tweeted: "Devastated to hear the news.

"RIP Luca – a fabulous career and a great fella. A wonderful life has been cut short. I am well and truly gutted.

"Gianluca Vialli it was an honour to have known you."

His former club Juventus posted a picture of the former striker lifting the Champions League in 1996 with the message "Ciao Gianluca."

Ex-Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair hailed former boss Gianluca Vialli as "one of the nicest guys" he has met.

He said: "Devastating news on the passing of Luca Vialli, one of the nicest guys I've met in the game, a great manager and team mate."

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Vialli remained in London after leaving Chelsea and married South Africa-born British-based model Cathryn White-Cooper in 2003.

He is survived by his wife and daughters Olivia and Sofia.

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