‘A legend to us and to all of football’: Gianluca Vialli’s former club Chelsea lead the tributes to the former Italy striker following his death aged 58 after long battle with pancreatic cancer
- Gianluca Vialli has died aged 58 following a struggle with pancreatic cancer
- Vialli passed away surrounded by his family after a five-year battle with cancer
- Former footballers and football clubs have taken to social media to pay tribute
- OBITUARY: Vialli was football’s ‘Lion King’ and he showed his class until the end
- LIVE: Follow all the latest updates as tributes pour in for the popular Italian
Chelsea and Juventus led the tributes paid to former Italy striker Gianluca Vialli, who has died at the age of 58.
Vialli passed away last night surrounded by his family last night following a five-year cancer battle – leaving Italian football in mourning.
Former footballers and football clubs have taken to social media to share their condolences to Vialli.
Gianluca Vialli (pictured) on Italy duty in September, has died at the age of 58 with cancer
One of his former club’s Chelsea have led the tributes to Vialli (pictured) after his passing
Numerous clubs have also paid tribute to Vialli, including his former clubs Chelsea, Juventus, Sampdoria and Watford.
The Blues tweeted: ‘You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli.’
Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali added: ‘This is truly an awful day for Chelsea Football Club. Gianluca’s legend will live on at Stamford Bridge.
‘His impact as a player, a coach and most importantly as a person, will be forever written across our club’s history. We send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to his family and friends.’
The striker signed for Chelsea back in 1996 and stayed at Stamford Bridge for three years
Another former club of his Juventus posted a long emotional statement, which read: ‘Such an intense sense of loss. We had been watching the news for days, hoping never to read this.
‘But here we are, staring at the screen, and a flood of emotions crashes inside of us.
‘We have always been with you, Gianluca. Ever since you arrived in 1992, when it was love at first sight.
‘You were one of the first pieces of a Juve side that would have climbed back to the top of Europe.
‘We loved everything about you, absolutely everything – your smile, your being a star and leader at the same time, on the pitch and in the dressing room, your adorable swashbuckling ways, your culture, your class, which you showed until the last day in the black and white stripes.
The Italian also played for the likes of Juventus, Sampdoria as well as Chelsea in his career
Serie A giants Juventus posted a long emotional tribute to their former player Vialli
‘The most memorable moments of those years inevitably lead to that exultation, after having drawn level in the unforgettable game with Fiorentina in 1994, when the whole stadium was enveloped in a roar and you carried the ball back to the centre circle and said ‘now let’s go and win it’. And we know that is how it ended.
‘That Cup, which you lifted to the sky on a warm night in Rome, interspersed with that infinite moment of tears, which began at the moment of the decisive penalty. And those tears were ours. Sweet tears of joy.’
Serie A side Sampdoria posted a statement of their own: ‘You gave us so much, we gave you so much: yes, it was love, reciprocal, infinite. A love that will not die today with you.
‘We will continue to love and adore you because – as you well know – you are better than Pele. And because, despite everything, our beautiful season is destined to never end.
‘We will remember you as a boy and a relentless centre-forward, because heroes are all young and beautiful and you, since that summer of 1984, have been our hero.
‘Strong and beautiful, with that 9 printed on the back and the Italian flag sewn on the heart.’
Watford also joined in, by saying: ‘All at Watford FC are saddened to learn of the passing of our former manager Gianluca Vialli. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.’
Not a club of his, but Manchester United also paid tribute by posting: ‘A wonderful player, manager and person against whom it was a privilege to compete. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli.’
Former players have also joined in by paying their respects including the likes of Ray Parlour, Frank Sinclair and Ramon Vega among many others.
Parlour tweeted: Sad news the passing of Gianluca Vialli. Legend and Great Guy.’
Sinclair posted: ‘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. RIEP Luca. God Bless.’
Former Tottenham and Watford defender Ramon Vega said: ‘I have just been informed of the very sad news that Gianluca Vialli passed away this morning at around 2am.
‘R.I.P I played against him in Italy and England and was also my manager. What a player and gentleman he was. Will be missed sadly my sincerest condolences to the family.’
Paul Robinson posted: ‘Terrible news regarding Vialli. I will forever be grateful to you for the guidance and trust you showed me as a young lad when playing under you.
‘My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.’
Graeme Souness also reminisced about his time with Vialli at Sampdoria in the 1980’s, as he broke in tears live on Sky Sports.
He said: ‘He just loved to laugh. He was a pleasure to be around. If you were in his company for 10-15 minutes once, I think you remember him for the rest of your life.’
Ray Wilkins son Ross also paid his respects, as he posted: ‘Absolutely gutted to hear the news of Luca passing.
‘He was one of the only true friends Dad had in football, a generous, kind man who loved football, but also valued friendship, family and life just as much.
‘Thoughts are with his family at this time. Forever a Legend.’
Former Liverpool and Real Sociedad player John Aldridge said: ‘What another sad day for football.
‘Another genius passes away VIALLI what a player what a gent!This photo is from my upmost respect!
‘My most prized shirt swap in my career Italy vROI,When he was nu 1 in world football. Never forgotten a true great. God bless RIP. YNWA.’
Pundit Chris Kamara also had his say, by tweeting: ‘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.’
Former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer also shared his condolences, by saying: ‘RIP Gianluca Vialli. What a lovely lovely man and a wonderful player he was.’
Former Tottenham, Liverpool and Stoke City target man Peter Crouch paid his respect, as he tweeted: ‘I’m genuinely gutted about this. I had Sampdoria home and away shirts because of him.
‘I tried to replicate his volleys In the park and such a lovely man when I met him. Rip.’
BT Sport, who Crouch now works for as a pundit, also reacted to the tragic news by posting: ‘Everyone at BT Sport sends their condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Italian legend, Gianluca Vialli.’
Italian Football Federation 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.
‘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.’
Vialli represented the Azzurri in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and gained popularity in England during a short spell at Stamford Bridge.
Vialli was the player-manager at Chelsea
Vialli would serve as Chelsea’s player-manager and then manager, leading them to the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the League Cup in 1998, plus the FA Cup in 2000.
His death follows a battle with pancreatic cancer, with his condition worsening in the week leading up to Christmas and family rushing to his bedside in a London hospital.
Sampdoria fans also showed their support until the end as they hung a supportive banner outside the London hospital where he was being treated.
Vialli was diagnosed with the illness for a second time in 2021, having been given the all-clear in April 2020 following a 17-month struggle.
He was working in Roberto Mancini’s coaching staff during Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph last year but had recently stepped down to concentrate on his latest cancer fight.
GIANLUCA VIALLI’S LAST PUBLIC WORDS
Speaking on December 14, announcing he was leaving his role with the Italy team, Vialli said:
‘At the end of a long and difficult ‘negotiation’ with my wonderful team of oncologists I have decided to suspend, I hope temporarily, my present and future professional commitments.
‘The goal is to use all the psycho-physical energies to help my body overcome this phase of the disease, so that I will be able as soon as possible to face new adventures and share them with all of you.’
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