The Italian soccer federation confirmed Vialli‘s death on Friday.
Vialli was appointed delegation chief under Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini, his longtime friend and former teammate.
The pair were known as the “gemelli del gol,” or “goal twins,” when they played together at Sampdoria, leading the Genoa club to its only Serie A title in 1991 and its only European title in 1990 with the Cup Winners’ Cup – plus four Italian Cup trophies.
Vialli and Mancini also helped Sampdoria reach the 1992 European Cup final, which it lost to Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.
“We have a relationship that goes way beyond friendship,” Mancini said during the Euros. “He’s like a true brother to me.”
Vialli’s death comes three weeks after the premature passing of another Serie A great, Siniša Mihajlović, who died after a long battle with leukaemia. Mihajlović also played with Mancini at Sampdoria after Vialli left the club for Juventus.
“Such an intense sense of loss,” Juventus said in a statement. “We have always been with you, Gianluca. Ever since you arrived in 1992, when it was love at first sight…we loved everything about you, absolutely everything – your smile, your being a star and leader at the same time, on the pitch and in the dressing room, your adorable swashbuckling ways, your culture, your class, which you showed until the last day in the black and white stripes.”
He ended his playing career while also managing Chelsea, leading the London club to FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup titles. He continued to live in London after moving on from Chelsea into TV commentary and other ventures.
“Our thoughts are with Luca’s wife Cathryn, his daughters Sofia and Olivia, and the rest of his family and his friends at this terribly sad time,” Chelsea said in a statement.
Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali added, “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.”
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