Legendary Italian football player, coach, and executive, Gianluca Vialli passed away on January 6 after a long battle with cancer. Vialli was born in Cremona and became a footballing legend with Italian and English clubs Sampdoria, Juventus, and Chelsea.
We look back at five stories most people never knew about the footballing legend.
- Vialli was one of the youngest managers in the history of Chelsea FC. The iconic London-based squad appointed Viali to the position of manager in 1998 at the tender age of 33 when he was also a signed player for the squad. He finished out the season as one of the few player-managers in Premier League history.
- On the morning of the Euro 2020 final, Vialli almost missed the team bus,. As the Italian National Team pulled out of the hotel for the most important match of the decade, they realized Vialli was missing. Moments later, Vialli could be seen running on foot to chase down the driver. The story provided some comedy relief to break the tension of anticipation of the big match. Italy went on to beat England and win their first European Cup in over 50 years.
- Vialli grew up as royalty, literally. While he would later become Italian football royalty, Vialli spent his childhood growing up in a 60-room castle called Castello di Belgioso in Cremona.
- He has a video game named after him. In 2002, video game developer Midas Interactive came out with Gianluca Vialli's European Manager. The game was one of the earliest strategic football management video games, which has since become popular across the world with franchises such as Football Manager.
- He was minutes away from pulling off one of the most stunning upsets in Champions League history. In 1992, a young Vialli and Roberto Mancini took underdog Sampdoria on one of the greatest Cinderella runs European football has ever seen. The duo carried the "Blucerchiati" all the way to the finals at Wembley Stadium against Spanish power FC Barcelona, where they lost in heartbreaking fashion in extra time.