Gianluca Vialli dies aged 58

Jude Summerfield
Vialli is an Italy legend
Vialli is an Italy legend / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Chelsea and Italy legend Gianluca Vialli has passed away at the age of 58.

Vialli played for the Azzurri at the 1986 and 1990 World Cup and later became a heroic figure at Stamford Bridge thanks to European Cup Winners' Cup and League Cup successes in 1998 before winning the FA Cup in 2000.

He had been diagnosed and beaten pancreatic cancer before the illness returned in late 2022.

Vialli played for Cremonese, Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea at club level, being a regular goalscorer during a glistening Serie A era between the 1980s and 1990s. He won Serie A titles with Sampdoria and Juventus and captained Juve to their most recent Champions League victory in 1996, when they beat Ajax on penalties in Rome.

Vialli would eventually leave Chelsea in 2000 and manage Watford briefly, more recently becoming a part of Roberto Mancini's coaching staff as the new delegation chief in the Italy set-up. Italy would win Euro 2020 thanks to a penalty shootout victory over England in the final at Wembley.

A statement from Sampdoria reads: “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.

“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.”

Juve added: "We have always suffered along with you, including the anxiety of these last few weeks. And again, in the end, we had to cry, but this time tears of loss.

"We are not original in confessing that we don't know how to get on in a world without Gianluca Vialli, even though we know that, as we have always been with you, now it will be you, forever with us."