This morning Gianluca Vialli left us: a champion, an outstanding talent, a symbol of Italian football. He passed away in London, aged just 58, after battling, as he had done on the pitch, against a dire, incurable disease.
One of the greatest centre-forwards in Italian history, he was one of the very few players to have won all three major UEFA club competitions, a feat unique among strikers. He also won numerous other trophies, both national and international.
His records include the title of top scorer at the 1986 Under-21 European Championship; the 1988-1989 Coppa Italia – in which he set the all-time record for goals in a single edition with 13; the 1989-1990 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 1990-1991 Serie A title, the year he won the Scudetto with Sampdoria.
Between 1985 and 1992 he made 59 appearances and scored 16 goals for the national team, participating in two World Cups (Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990) and one European Championship (West Germany 1988); he also played in 21 games and scored 11 goals for the Under-21 team, with which he played in two European Championships (1984 and 1986). In 2015 he was inducted into the Italian football’s Hall of Fame.
CONI President Giovanni Malagò, upon hearing the news of Vialli’s passing, issued the following statement: “Italian sport and football in particular have lost a champion today, but above all a man who was one of a kind. There are no words to describe the immense sadness that we all feel at this moment. That embrace of his at Wembley with Mancini at last year’s European Championships remains an indelible image of the values of sport inspired by the Olympic spirit. But for that very reason there is another image I would like to remind you of. That of 26 February 2006, when Vialli, along with other illustrious champions, carried the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, the only footballer to have had such an honour. On behalf of Italian sport, and speaking for myself, I stand alongside the family, remembering the endless thrills that Vialli brought us. Ciao Gianluca!”.