Former Italy, Chelsea, Juventus and Sampdoria striker Gianluca Vialli has died at the age of 58
Vialli who had a stellar career as a player and later went into coaching had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer but succumbed to the killer disease on Friday.
Vialli began his career at Cremonese, his hometown club, before going on to star in Serie A for Sampdoria and Juventus, later ending his playing career at Chelsea before going into management and coaching.
The late Vialli scored 16 goals in 59 appearances for his beloveth Italy and featured in the Azzurri’s 1986 and 1990 World Cup squads.
It was announced in recent weeks that Vialli would be stepping away from his role as delegation chief with the Italy team to focus on his treatment for pancreatic cancer.
He had been reunited of late in the Italy setup with the head coach, Roberto Mancini, his former Sampdoria strike partner, and Vialli was hoping he would be able to resume his national-team role.
READ ALSO: Chelsea Set To Appoint New Sporting Director
Vialli announced he had undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy in November 2018, having been diagnosed with cancer one year earlier. He was initially given the all-clear in April 2020, but in December 2021 he announced the disease had returned.
Explaining his decision to suspend his Italy involvement, Vialli said on 14 December 2022: “The goal is to use all my psycho-physical energies to help my body overcome this phase of the disease, in order to be able to face new adventures as soon as possible and share them with all of you.”
Sampdoria Football Club wrote in an emotional article on Friday: “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 Pelé. And because, despite everything, our beautiful season is destined to never end.”
They added: “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.”
One of his former clubs, Udinese tweeted: “A great man, a winner and a fighter on and off the pitch. You left us way too soon but we will never forget your example and your class. Ciao Gianluca.”