Italian football mourns the loss of former international Gianluca Vialli. The former striker and head of delegation for the national team died at the age of 58, the family announced.
"He died last night surrounded by his family after fighting the disease with courage and dignity for five years," the statement read. Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few years ago.
"We thank the many people who have supported him with their affection during this time. His memory and example will live in our hearts forever," the family continued. Vialli leaves behind his wife and two daughters.
In mid-December, he announced that he would be temporarily on hold as assistant to national coach Roberto Mancini due to cancer treatment. "After long and difficult negotiations with my wonderful team of oncologists, I have decided to suspend - hopefully only temporarily - my current and future commitments," Vialli said at the time. He died a good three weeks later.
Vialli had won the European Championship title with Italy in 2021, Mancini had cried in his arms after the final. "I hoped until the very end that he could perform another miracle," said head of the association Gabriele Gravina. "But I am comforted by the knowledge that what he did for Italian football and the blue jersey will never be forgotten." There will be a minute's silence before all Serie A games on the coming matchday.
"We will not forget your goals, your legendary overhead kicks, the joy and emotion you gave to the entire nation hugging Mancini after winning the European Championship title," said Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. "But above all we will not forget the people." Vialli made 59 appearances for the national team between 1985 and 1992 and scored 16 goals for the Squadra Azzurra.
As a player, he ran for Sampdoria Genoa, Juventus Turin and Chelsea FC, among others. "You gave us a lot, we gave you a lot: yes, it was love, mutually, infinitely. A love that will not die, today, with you. We will continue to love and adore you," wrote Sampdoria in an emotional statements. Juve paid tribute to Vialli as "a champion, a legend and a great human being. A part of us and our history."