Former Italy, Chelsea and Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli has passed away at the age of 58.

He passed away surrounded by his family last night after a five-year battle with cancer.

‘We thank those who have supported him with their affection over the years. The memory of him and his example will always be in our hearts,’ his family wrote in a statement.

Gianluca Vialli, pictured on Italy duty in September, has died of cancer aged 58

Vialli has learned to embrace his illness and leaves behind a sporting and spiritual legacy

Violi was a key figure in Italy’s run to win Euro 2020, serving as their head of delegation

Violi was a prolific striker for Sampdoria and Juventus in Italy, then for Chelsea in England

Violi was a prolific striker for Sampdoria and Juventus in Italy, then for Chelsea in England

He represented the Azzurri at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and gained popularity in England during a short spell at Stamford Bridge.

Violi would go on to serve as player-manager and then manager of Chelsea, leading them to the European Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup in 1998, as well as the FA Cup in 2000.

He died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his condition worsening in the week before Christmas, and the family attending to his bedside in a London hospital.

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Vialli was diagnosed with the disease a second time in 2021, making a full recovery in April 2020 after a 17-month struggle.

He was working on Roberto Mancini’s coaching staff during Italy’s Euro 2020 victory last year, but recently stepped down to focus on his latest cancer battle.

Born in the city of Cremona in Lombardy, Vialli began his playing career at local club Cremonese, helping them win promotion to Serie B, the Italian second division.

His goal-scoring soon attracted the attention of Sampdoria, where his prolific strike partnership with Mancini – they were nicknamed ‘The Goal Twins’ – helped the club win their first Serie A championship in 1990–91.

Violi (right) and Roberto Mancini (left) were known as 'The Goal Twins' at Sampdoria

Violi (right) and Roberto Mancini (left) were known as ‘The Goal Twins’ at Sampdoria

The pair hug after Italy beat England on penalties in last year's Euro 2020 final

The pair hug after Italy beat England on penalties in last year’s Euro 2020 final

Vialli won the Champions League after Juventus beat Ajax on penalties in the 1996 final

Vialli won the Champions League after Juventus beat Ajax on penalties in the 1996 final

Wylie was the league’s leading goalscorer that season with 19 and his backflip celebration became commonplace.

It was a golden age for Sampdoria, who also won three Italian Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup during Violi’s time.

They also reached the final of the European Cup in 1992 but lost 1–0 to Barcelona at Wembley.

Juventus signed Vialli in 1992 for a then world record fee of £12.5 million and their success continued with victories in the UEFA Cup, Serie A and the Italian Cup.

But the highlight came when he partnered Alessandro Del Piero and Fabrizio Ravenelli in a formidable strikeforce as Juventus beat Ajax in the 1996 Champions League final.

Vialli won the Champions League at Juventus in 1996

He scored 53 goals in 145 matches for Juventus.

Violi achieved success at all but one of his clubs as a player, with Juventus winning the Champions League in 1996 and losing the final to Sampdoria in 1992.

He was lured to Chelsea that summer as Ruud Gullit built the Blues from mid-table oblivion to a trophy-winning team.

However, his relationship with Gullit was poor, and Violi only got a five-minute cameo as Chelsea beat Middlesbrough to win the 1997 FA Cup Final.

Vialli celebrates with Dennis Wise after Chelsea beat Stuttgart in the 1998 European Cup Winners' Cup Final

Vialli celebrates with Dennis Wise after Chelsea beat Stuttgart in the 1998 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final

When the Dutchman was fired in early 1998, Vialli, aged 33, was appointed player-manager in his place.

Success followed almost immediately in the League Cup and then the European Cup Winners’ Cup, with Chelsea beating Stuttgart 1–0 in the final.

After retiring from playing at the end of the 1998–99 season with a career record score of 259 goals in 673 club games, Violi was able to concentrate fully on his Chelsea coaching duties.

They won the FA Cup in 2000, beating Aston Villa 1–0 in the final at the original Wembley Stadium.

But that happiness was short-lived and he was sacked five games into the 2000–01 campaign following poor results and a falling out with players including Gianfranco Zola and Didier Deschamps.

Violi then briefly managed Watford, but did not return to management, instead working as a commentator for Sky Italia and a pundit on other channels.

He represented Italy 59 times at senior level, scoring 16 times. Vialli was named in the team of the tournament for Euro ’88 after Italy reached the semi-finals.

Chelsea were a successful cup side under Violi, winning the League Cup in 1998

Chelsea were a successful cup side under Violi, winning the League Cup in 1998

They also lifted the FA Cup in 2000 in the last final to be played at the original Wembley.

They also lifted the FA Cup in 2000 in the last final to be played at the original Wembley.

He also played in the 1990 World Cup on home soil but failed to score as Italy lost on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals.

In 2019, Violi was appointed head of delegation for the Italy national team under head coach and friend Mancini.

He played a big role behind the scenes in the Euro 2020 victory, beating England on penalties at Wembley last July.

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