Gianluca Vialli was remembered as a “legend” with “cute swashbuckling ways” and a “wonderful soul” after he died at the age of 58.
The former Italy, Cremonese, Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea striker Vialli died on Friday.
He was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and re-diagnosed in 2021 after being completely cured three years ago.
Vialli had an extremely successful footballing career before racking up more honors as Chelsea boss and then taking charge of Watford before joining the staff of great friend Roberto Mancini to play a part in Italy’s 2021 European Championship triumph.
Tributes to Vialli poured in after his death was announced.
Serie A club Sampdoria, for whom Vialli scored 141 goals, said: “We will remember you as a boy and a relentless centre-forward because all the heroes are young and beautiful and you have been our hero since the summer of 1984.
“Strong and beautiful, with that 9 printed on the back and the Italian flag embroidered on the heart. Sampdoria’s strongest leader, paired up front with your twin Bobby Golem [Mancini]. In three words: one of us.
“It was a conviction that remained after saying goodbye to Genoa and the South in tears. That’s right: while lifting trophies across Europe in different colors, tracksuits and clothes, Gianluca Vialli was a Sampdorian and the Sampdorians were with Gianluca Vialli.”
Juve stated: “Such an intense sense of loss. We’ve been watching the news for days, hoping we’d never read it. But here we are, staring at the screen, and a flood of emotions hits us.
“We have always been with you, Gianluca. Since you arrived in 1992, when it was love at first sight. You were one of the first elements of the Juve team that climbed back to the top of Europe.
We loved everything about you, absolutely everything – your smile, being both a star and a leader on the pitch and in the locker room, your charming, swashbuckling demeanor, culture, class that you showed until the very end. day in black and white stripes.
“We have always been with you, and so also after the end of our shared history, following you with a smile, when you brought a brand new Italian model of football to England, on and off the pitch, and only now do we understand how pioneering you were.
“And in recent years we had our last battle with you, being touched by you when you lifted the European Championship trophy in perfect form, coincidentally in London, in 2021. And even then we lifted that cup together.
“We have always suffered with you, including the turmoil of the last few weeks. And again at the end we had to cry, but this time with tears of loss.
“We are not original in confessing that we do not know how to cope in a world without Gianluca Vialli, although we know that just as we have always been with you, now you will be with us forever. Even if it doesn’t comfort us, at least not now.”
Chelsea also paid an emotional tribute to her former lucky charm and boss.
The Premier League club said: “As soon as he walked through the door at Stamford Bridge, when he was already a world football star, Luca declared that he wanted to become a Chelsea legend.
“It’s a goal he has undoubtedly achieved, respected for his work on the pitch and in the dugout during some of the most successful years in our history.
“Loved by fans, players and staff at Stamford Bridge, Luca will be greatly missed not only by the Chelsea community but throughout the football world, including his native Italy where he was such an iconic figure.”
Graeme Souness, Vialli’s teammate at Samp, told Sky Sports: “I can’t tell you what a good guy he was. Forget football for a moment, it’s just a great soul.
“He was just a really nice man. I went to Italy when I was 31 and he was 20. He was just fantastic around, a fun loving guy, he was full of mischief, such a warm person and a fantastic player.
“My condolences go out to his family and his wife. They were blessed to have crossed paths, the children were blessed to have such a dad, and his wife was blessed to marry such a man.”
Dennis Wise, Vialli’s captain at Chelsea, tweeted: “My heart is broken today. I will miss you my friend, I love you Luca.