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Former Chelsea striker and manager dies aged 58

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After being diagnosed with cancer for a second time in 2021, Gianluca Vialli has passed away.

Former Chelsea striker and manager Gianluca Vialli has died aged 58 following a long battle with cancer.

Vialli was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017. The Italian announced in April 2020 that the doctors had given him the all-clear. However, a year later, he was re-diagnosed. He subsequently left his role with the Italian national team in December to focus on his health.

“Surrounded by his family, he passed away last night after five years of illness faced with courage and dignity,” read a statement from Vialli’s family.

“We thank the many who have supported him over the years with their affection. The memory of him and his example will live forever in our hearts.”

Italy’s first Premier League manager

As a footballer, Vialli played for Cremonese, Sampdoria, and Juventus in his native Italy. He enjoyed great success with the last two clubs in particular, winning a combined 11 trophies. This included two Serie A titles, the UEFA Cup, and the Champions League itself.

The former striker signed for Chelsea in 1996 and replaced the sacked Ruud Gullit as the team’s player-manager in 1998, becoming the first Italian to manage a Premier League club.

Vialli led Chelsea to the League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, and Charity Shield before leaving in September 2000. He scored 40 goals in 87 games for the Blues.

Following a brief spell in charge of Watford in 2001/02, Vialli joined former Sampdoria teammate and Italy manager Roberto Mancini’s backroom staff. He helped the Azzurri win Euro 2020 in July 2021.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has said all games in Italy this weekend will hold a minute’s silence in memory of the 59-cap Italy international.