Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli dies aged 58 after cancer battle

6 January 2023, 09:41 | Updated: 6 January 2023, 12:17

Vialli played for and managed Chelsea
Vialli played for and managed Chelsea. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli has died at the age of 58 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Vialli was first diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and then again in 2021, shortly after Italy won Euro 2020.

His family said in a statement: "We thank the many who have supported him over the years with their affection. The memory of him and his example will live forever in our hearts."

Vialli scored 40 goals in 88 appearances for the West London club between 1996 and 1999 before managing them.

Head of Italy delegation Gianluca Vialli celebrates with The Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team's victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship
Head of Italy delegation Gianluca Vialli celebrates with The Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team's victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship. Picture: Getty
Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea
Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea. Picture: Getty

Before moving to Chelsea, Vialli played for for Cremonese, Sampdoria and Juventus in his home country.

In 1998, he became a player-manager for Chelsea after Ruud Gullit's exit, winning the League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

After becoming full-time manager in 1999, Chelsea won the FA Cup and Charity Shield in 2000 under the Italian.

More recently, he had been working as a part of the Italian national team, which he stepped down from just weeks ago to undergo treatment for his cancer.

Tributes have flooded in following his passing, including from Georgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, who said: "We won't forget your goals, your legendary bicycle kicks, the joy and emotion you gave the whole nation in that embrace with Mancini after the European Championship victory.

Gianluca Vialli worked in the Italian national team in his final months
Gianluca Vialli worked in the Italian national team in his final months. Picture: Getty

"But we will not forget above all the man. To God Gianluca Vialli, the Lion King on the pitch and in life."

“I am deeply saddened by the news", President of the Italian football federation Gabriele Gravina said.

"I hoped right up until the final seconds that another miracle would appear, yet I'm consoled by what he gave to football in Italy and the Azzurri shirt, and that will always be remembered.

"Gianluca was a wonderful person and will leave a big hole in the national team and in everyone who knew his extraordinary human qualities."

Vialli's former teammate Graeme Souness, told Sky Sports: "I can't tell you how good a guy he was. Forget football, he was just a gorgeous soul. He was just a truly nice human being.

"He was just fabulous to be around. He was such a fun-loving guy, full of mischief, wonderful footballer and a warm human being.

"People will say things about his magnificent football ability, and correctly so, but above all that what a human being.

"My condolence go to his family - the kids were blessed to have a dad like that, his wife was blessed to be married to a man like that."

Vialli is survived by his wife Cathryne White Cooper and their two daughters Olivia and Sofia.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Why everyone in their twenties seems to be running - and why I’m one of them

Why everyone in their twenties seems to be running - and why I’m one of them

Rishi Sunak has apologised for the infected blood scandal.

'This is a day of shame': Rishi Sunak apologises ‘wholeheartedly’ for infected blood scandal after 'chilling' report

Kate Roughley, 37, strapped the Genevieve Meehan face down on to a bean bag

Parents will 'never forgive' nursery worker who killed daughter by strapping her face down and ignoring cries for 90 minutes

Children were used as "objects for research" the final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry has found.

The school where dozens died: Only 30 of 122 boys at Treloar College are alive after experiments with infected blood

Pictures of the Week-North America-Photo Gallery

Cohen says he stole from Trump’s company as key hush money trial witness quizzed

Japan Mount Fuji

Japan imposes new rules to climb Mount Fuji to combat tourism and littering

Dame Judi Dench has placed the first seedling from the Sycamore Gap in the National Trust's Chelsea Flower Show garden

Dame Judi Dench places first Sycamore Gap seedling in Chelsea Flower Show garden

Grant Wagster pushed his wife down the stairs after expressing frustration over his internet connection

Tree surgeon avoids jail after pushing wife down stairs and breaking her hip in rage over WiFi connection

Passengers queuing to get on Eurostar trains at St Pancras

Exact date for new EU Eurostar checks set and how much earlier you need to arrive revealed

Benjamin Netanyahu

International Criminal Court seeks arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Hamas chiefs

Lloyd Austin

Pentagon vows to keep weapons moving to Ukraine as Kyiv faces renewed assault

Kate Roughley, 37, strapped the baby girl face down on to a bean bag

Nursery worker who strapped baby face down to beanbag and left her for 90 minutes found guilty of manslaughter

Infected blood campaigners meeting in Parliament Square ahead of the publication of the report into the scandal

What is the infected blood scandal, who is responsible, and will victims be compensated?

Fishermen scouring the seabed

Philippines blames China for loss of giant clams in disputed shoal

Colin and Janet Smith are calling for criminal prosecutions after they lost their seven year old son Colin in 1990

‘He had Aids but they kept it from us’: Parents tell of hell as scale of infected blood cover-up revealed

Accused pair

Russian director and playwright go on trial over play ‘justifying terrorism’