Gianluca Vialli, the former Italian football forward who helped Sampdoria and Juventus win Serie A and European trophies before becoming player-coach at Chelsea, has died. He was 58.
The Italian Soccer Federation confirmed Vialli’s death on Friday.
Vialli announced in 2018 that he had overcome a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer but then said in December 2021 that the disease had returned.
As his condition worsened, Vialli announced in mid-December that he was temporarily stepping down from his role as head of Italy’s national team delegation.
Vialli was appointed head of delegation under Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini, his long-time friend and former teammate.
The pair were known as the “Gemelli del Gol” or “Gol Twins” when they played together at Sampdoria, leading the Genoa club to its only Serie A title in 1991 and its only European title with the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1990. — plus four Italian Cup trophies.
Vialli and Mancini also helped Sampdoria reach the 1992 European Cup final, which they lost to Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.
As head of the delegation, Vialli reunited with Mancini to help Italy win the European Championship at Wembley in 2021, defeating England in a penalty shootout.
Italian soccer great Gianluca Vialli dies at 58
“We have a relationship that goes beyond friendship,” Mancini said during the Euros. “He’s like a real brother to me.”
Vialli’s death comes three weeks after the untimely death of another Serie A great, Sinisa Mihajlovic, who died after a long battle with leukemia. Mihajlovic also played with Mancini at Sampdoria after Vialli left the club for Juventus.
Vialli won another Serie A title at Juventus and also lifted the Champions League and UEFA Cup trophies with the Bianconeri.
“Such an intense sense of loss,” Juventus said in a statement. “We are always with you, Gianluca. Ever since you arrived in 1992, when it was love at first sight… we’ve loved everything about you, absolutely everything – your smile, being a star and a leader at the same time, on the field and in the dressing room, your adorable swashbuckling ways, your culture, your class. , which you showed up to the last day in black and white stripes.”
Vialli played for Italy from 1985–1992, making 59 appearances and scoring 16 goals.
He ended his playing career while managing Chelsea, leading the London club to the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup titles. He continued to live in London after moving from Chelsea to TV commentary and other ventures.
“Our thoughts are with Luca’s wife Catherine, his daughters Sophia and Olivia and the rest of his family and friends at this terribly sad time,” Chelsea said in a statement.
“Gianluca’s legend will live on at Stamford Bridge,” added Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali.