Rome, Jan 6 (EFE).- Tributes have poured in for former Italy striker and Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli who died Friday at the age of 58.
Vialli, who had pancreatic cancer, died at a London hospital. His death was confirmed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in a statement.
“At the age of 58, Gianluca sadly passed away today after a long battle with illness, that he fought head on with dignity and with the strength of all the Azzurri family behind him. Italian football isn’t just losing a Head of Delegation, but a great man, who prior was a great striker and Head Coach,” the FIGC said.
“The death of Vialli, arriving just a few days after another sad loss with Sinisa Mihajlovic, will leave a huge hole in Italian football.”
Vialli began his professional career as a striker for his local team Cremonese in 1980, where he spent four seasons before moving to Sampdoria.
It was at Sampdoria where he met player and future Italy head coach Roberto Mancini.
Together they won Sampdoria’s only ever Serie A title, three Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana.
Vialli later moved to Juventus, where he won a Champions League in 1996. The Turin club acted as a trampoline to Premier League side Chelsea, where he played until his retirement in 1999.
After hanging up his boots, he tried his luck as a head coach, first for Chelsea and then for Watford, both with limited success.
It wasn’t until 2019 when he returned to the bench alongside friend and former teammate Mancini, who named him head of the Italian national team’s delegation. The pair went on to lift the Euro 2020 trophy.
In a statement, Chelsea said: “Loved by fans, players and staff at Stamford Bridge, Luca will be sorely missed not just by the Chelsea community, but the entire footballing world, including in his native Italy, where he was such an iconic figure.”EFE