• Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

Gianluca Vialli is a quick-witted artist, a charming joker, and a millionaire everyman.

ByJosh Taylor

Jan 8, 2023

The renowned Italian, who died of cancer only a week after Pele, will be remembered as much for the person he was as for the footballer he was.
Only a week after losing a piece of its spirit with the death of Pele, football lost part of its colour and style with the death of Gianluca Vialli from pancreatic cancer. He’d vanquished his “fellow traveller” twice before, according to an interview he gave to The Guardian four years ago, but the third time was a bust. In the interview, he stated that he had just one wish: whether he outlived cancer or cancer outlived him, he would do so with a grin on his face.
He would have probably gone with a huge smile on his face—all of his images show that beatific, loving smile on his face—but he left his friends and the football fraternity in tears. It is a testament to the guy that he is remembered for the person he was rather than the footballer he was. He was without a doubt one of the best forwards of his generation, a quick-footed talent with a repertoire of daring skills.
If you rummaged through the grainy footage of his Sampordia-Juventus days, you’d find pure footballing brilliance. He possessed great skill and vision, as seen by his bicycle kicks, back heels and chips, a sliding header off the grass versus Bari (an unique goal), dummies, volleys, and curlers. When he inspired Sampordia to their lone scudetto in their history, he masterminded the second most romantic fairy-tale screenplay in Serie A (after Diego Maradona’s Napoli robbery) (he netted 19 goals in 26 games).Years later, he led Juventus to Champions League victory in 1996, then moved to Chelsea, bringing “sexy football” to London and transforming them into serious contenders for the first time in Premier League history. A total of 259 club goals in an era of backline thuggery was no easy task. Later, he reconnected with his best buddy, Roberto Mancini, to help Italy win the European Championship last year. In some respects, it was a blessing in disguise for both, as their worldwide careers never reached the heights that their incredible skills deserved.
But on the night Italy won the World Cup, he sobbed in the arms of his buddy, brother, and goal twin, Mancini. In what was the goal twins’ final act, tears streamed down Mancini’s cheeks as well. “It’s an emotional experience working with Roberto and the team. He’s claimed that we’re becoming old, but “working here together will keep us all youthful,” he’d say.

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