Former Chelsea and Juventus star Gianluca Vialli has died aged 58 after battling cancer for five years.
Vialli was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and for the second time in 2021.
A statement from his family on Friday read: “Surrounded by his family, he died last night after a five-year illness met with courage and dignity.
“We thank the many who have supported him over the years with their devotion. His memory and his example will live forever in our hearts.”
Vialli was part of the coaching staff that led Italy to Euro 2020 success, but he left his role with the national team in December to undergo further treatment.
“I know I probably won’t die of old age, I hope to live as long as possible, but I feel much more fragile than before,” Vialli said in a Netflix documentary that aired in March 2022.
He described cancer as “a traveling companion” that he hoped would eventually leave him alone after testing his mettle.
“Illness can teach a lot about who you are and can push you to go beyond the superficial way we live,” he said.
Following the news on Friday, Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina said: “Gianluca was a wonderful person and leaves an unfillable void, in the national team and in all those who appreciated his extraordinary human qualities.”
Vialli first appeared as a young player with his local team Cremonese in Italy’s third and second tiers.
He moved to Sampdoria in 1984 and helped the club enjoy the most successful period in its history, winning the Italian Cup three times. Vialli scored twice as Sampdoria beat Anderlecht 2-0 in 1990 to lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
He also played a major role in Sampdoria’s 1991 Serie A league title for the first and only time, scoring 19 goals.
Vialli left the Genoa-based club in the summer of 1992, moving to Juventus, where after a weak start he rediscovered his goalscoring touch and helped the Turin giants win the Italian league in 1995 and the Champions League the following season.
He joined Chelsea on a free transfer in 1996 and became player manager two years later when Dutchman Ruud Gullit was sacked.
Under Vialli, Chelsea won the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998 and the FA Cup two years later before he was also sacked.
You will be missed by so many. A legend for us and for all of football.
Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli. 💙 pic.twitter.com/mNJPDkCSYO
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) 6 January 2023
His last managerial role was in charge of Watford in the English second tier in 2001 and 2002.
In October 2019, Vialli was appointed as Italy’s new head of delegation, meaning he was reunited with head coach Roberto Mancini, a lifelong friend and strike partner when they both played for Sampdoria, where they became known as “the goal twins”.
Mancini and Vialli led the Italians to Euro 2020, lifting the trophy at Wembley Stadium. Their Sampdoria team had lost the European Cup final to Barcelona at the same venue 29 years earlier.
The pair celebrated with a tearful embrace that “was more beautiful than the hugs we used to give each other when I gave him the ball and he scored,” Vialli said in a television interview with Italy’s RAI in November.
Vialli is survived by a wife and two daughters.
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.