Italy mourns the death of Gianluca Vialli. Gravina: “What he gave to the Azzurri will always be remembered"

The national side's Head of Delegation has died today at the age of 58. A minute's silence will be observed in his memory before all the weekend's games.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Italy mourns the death of Gianluca Vialli. Gravina: “What he gave to the Azzurri will always be remembered

That photo on the pitch at Wembley, the hug between him and Head Coach Roberto Mancini after Federico Chiesa's goal against Austria in the quarter-finals of Euro 2021: those will be the images remembered of Gianluca Vialli who will remain in our hearts forever. 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 death of Vialli, arriving just a few days after another sad loss with Sinisa Mihajlovic, will leave a huge hole in Italian football. To remember him, the Federation has arranged a minute's silence to be observed before all the league's games at the weekend. “I am deeply saddened by the news", said FIGC President Gabriele Gravina. "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." Three weeks ago, Vialli had announced he was to step aside temporarily from his duties with the First Team in order to “have all his mental and physical energy available to him to help his body fight this stage of his illness.

Born in Cremona on 9 July 1964, Vialli started his professional footballing career with Cremonese, before moving onto Sampdoria in 1984, where he stayed for eight seasons winning a league title, three Italian Cups (Coppa Italia), an Italian Supercoppa and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, as well as playing in a European Cup Final against Barcelona at Wembley (in 1991, he was Serie A's top goalscorer). Then came a glorious spell at Juventus lasting four years, with five trophies won: a Scudetto, one Coppa Italia, one Italian Supercoppa, a UEFA Cup and one Champions League, won in Rome in 1996. Vialli's playing career ended in 1999 after three years in England at Chelsea, winning an FA Cup, a League Cup, a Cup Winners' Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. It was at Chelsea where he started off his coaching career, first as a player-manager and then as a Head Coach, leading them to an FA Cup and one Charity Shield (now named The Community Shield), after which three of the four trophies won as a player with the Blues had arrived leading the London club.

With Italy, he won 59 caps and scored 16 times, making his debut on 16 November 1985 in a friendly against Poland. He was then called up by Enzo Bearzot to play at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, after being the top scorer at the Under-21 European Championships that same summer. He was also selected for the World Cup in 1990 on home territory, after also being part of the sqaud in the Euros in 1988. Vialli made his final appearance on 19 December 1992, in Malta, in a World Cup '94 qualifying group game. Ambassador of UEFA EURO 2020 Volunteers programme and with his Azzurri shirts housed in the Museo del Calcio di Coverciano, in 2015 he was inducted into Italy's 'Football Hall of Fame on the same day as his teammate and close friend Roberto Mancini.