Ruud Gullit was the man who brought Gianluca Vialli from Italy to Chelsea and paid tribute to the striker. ‘He was always a gentleman. It’s absurd he didn’t get more coaching jobs.’



The former Cremonese, Sampdoria and Juventus forward saw out his career at Stamford Bridge and found love in London too, making it his home.

It is also where he died last week after treatment for pancreatic cancer.

“I was the one who brought him to Chelsea from Juve, he was an important player for us and everyone adored him,” Gullit told Dutch television Ziggo.

“I also faced him when I was a player at Milan, he was in a strike pairing at Samp with Roberto Mancini. What a pair they made…”

Vialli made a huge impact at Chelsea and was one of the players who opened the door for Italians to try an experience in the Premier League.

“Gianluca was a good guy who came from a rich family. He was always a gentleman in the way he acted and interacted with people.

“It’s fantastic that he won the EURO 2020 trophy with Mancini and his former Sampdoria teammate Attilio Lombardo and Alberico Evani.”

Vialli had already received treatment for pancreatic cancer before that tournament in the summer of 2021, but the illness returned over the last couple of months.

“He went far too soon, it is a huge loss,” continued Gullit, who was the Chelsea coach at the time of Vialli’s arrival in London.

“We didn’t meet up enough lately. He took over my role as manager at Chelsea after a year and a half, but our rapport remained strong.

“I remember a few years ago we were both on an Italian television programme and we laughed like crazy together. It’s absurd that with all the trophies he won at Chelsea, he only ever really got the job at Watford and nobody else called.

“That’s also why it was so wonderful to see him win the European Championship with Italy as a director.”

Vialli was talked into leaving his role with Mancini’s Italy staff in November, although it was only meant to be temporary while he focused on the latest round of treatment in London.

“We knew he was ill. I spoke to a friend of mine who visited him a month ago and what he told me was painful. Gianluca knew what he was going towards. Damn, too soon. Just like Sinisa Mihajlovic. I visited his home, he too was a fun and sweet guy. It’s all terribly painful.”

Italy coach Mancini effectively lost ‘two brothers’ in under a month, as first Mihajlovic died in December from leukaemia, then Vialli followed on January 6.

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