Friday 06 January 2023, 15:30

FIFA President pays homage to Gianluca Vialli

  • Gianluca Vialli made 59 appearances for Italy and played at two FIFA World Cups

  • Won all three major European club trophies

  • FIFA President says football has lost one of its most contagious smiles

FIFA is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Italian forward Gianluca Vialli at the age of 58. He was one of the great strikers of his generation, winning all three major UEFA club competitions that existed at the time and making 59 appearances for Italy, before moving into coaching.

“Football has lost one of its most beautiful and positively contagious smiles, the smile of Gianluca Vialli. The smile of a man who played and coached. The smile of a man who had success and thereby, in his joy, helped to transform and grow clubs, like his time at Sampdoria. He kept his smile despite his illness during his final stint with the Italian national team. Vialli was a great footballer and an intelligent man,“ said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“One day he saw me doing some keepy-ups and said to me: ´Gianni, let's face it, you can't do keepy-ups. I'll teach you. And, once again, he smiled. This is the right way to remember him, with his happy expression. He was a great, because he had fun and he made all of us have fun. His passion was the most beautiful embodiment of football. A big embrace to his family and friends.”

Gianluca Vialli played for Italy's national team between 1985 and 1992, taking part at the FIFA World Cup in 1986 and 1990 and the UEFA European Championship finals in 1988. He scored 16 goals in his 59 appearances.

Italy's Gianluca Vialli takes the ball past Austria's Kurt Russ

At club level, in a famous partnership with the current Italy coach Roberto Mancini, he helped Sampdoria win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1990 and led them to their only Serie A title the following year. He also won Serie A, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League with Juventus before ending his playing career at Chelsea, where he also coached.

He was reunited with Mancini when he joined the Italian national team staff and together they helped the Azzurri win UEFA EURO 2020. Gianluca Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017. He was given the all-clear a year later only for the illness to return.