Gianluca Vialli has passed away, far too soon, aged just 58, after a long and recurring battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a legend of the modern game, a legend at Sampdoria, Juventus, and Chelsea as well, where he started as a player and finished as a multiple trophy-winning manager.
“This is truly an awful day for Chelsea Football Club. Gianluca’s legend will live on at Stamford Bridge. His impact as a player, a coach and most importantly as a person, will be forever written across our club’s history. We send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
-Todd Boehly & Behdad Eghbali; source: Chelsea FC
Vialli’s stay in West London may have been relatively brief, just four years, but he was a formative influence for many of us in our football-fandom. He also won five cups with the Blues, the 1997 and 2000 FA Cups, the 1998 League Cup, the 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup, and the 1998 UEFA Super Cup. He scored 40 goals in 83 appearances but the love affair between him and the club extended well beyond raw numbers or even trophies, and he was always a most welcome visitor around the ground.
You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 6, 2023
Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli. pic.twitter.com/mNJPDkCSYO
Vialli playing for Sampdoria in the early ‘90s and celebrating his many goals with backflips is one of my earliest distinct footballing memories. I wasn’t quite yet 10 when they lost to Barcelona 1-0 in the 1992 Champions League final. He became the world’s most expensive footballer soon after that game, but it was his move to Chelsea some years later would help cement my budding allegiance.
And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Thank you, Luca.