Massimo Mauro says Gianluca Vialli’s only regret is not to have become Sampdoria‘s President and reveals the former Juventus and Chelsea striker told him: ‘We are not going to see each other again’ before Christmas last year.

Vialli died of pancreatic cancer aged 58 on January 6, 2023. He had been hospitalised at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in December 2022 when many friends and former teammates visited him for the last time.

Mauro, a former Juventus teammate of Vialli and a friend with whom Gianluca founded the ‘Fondazione Vialli and Mauro’ spoke about the tragic last days of his friend’s life in an interview with La Stampa.

“His wife Cathryn had called me. Luca suffered a lot. He would remain alert for ten minutes, but then he needed morphine again,” said Mauro, a former Juventus winger.

‘I’ll remain here for a while. I’ll spend Christmas with the boys, and I will return to visit you,’ Mauro told Vialli, but the ex-Chelsea striker replied: ‘No, Massimo, we are not going to see each other again.’

“I kissed him, I left the room and I immediately called Mancini,” continued Mauro.

“The following time I saw him in the coffin; I brought it with Mancio [Mancini’s nickname], Luca’s brothers and Nando, one of his historic friends from Cremona. La Canzone del Sole by Battisti and a song by Morricone were played that day. Luca had chosen them.”

The way Vialli faced the illness through the years was an inspiration to many.

“It was August, we were in Alba for a youth tournament,” Mauro recalled.

“We spent four days together, and I understood the situation had worsened. Luca ate and didn’t put on weight but didn’t give up. He wanted to award all the kids one by one. It was raining and he couldn’t stand still for a long time. He was forced to go to the dressing room to lie down. He was a hero in those months. He had dignity until the end, like Sinisa Mihajlovic.”

Vialli made history in Italian football. To date, he is the last Juventus captain to have lifted the Champions League in 1995-96 and he also led Sampdoria to their only Scudetto in 1990-91 and reached the Champions League Final with the Blucerchiati the following season, but Samp lost to Barcelona.

Mauro revealed Vialli’s greatest regret is not becoming the Sampdoria President.

“He said it to me before dying. He only had two loves. Sampdoria and Juventus and he couldn’t become the Juventus President,” Mauro claimed.

“He rejected so many offers out of respect for history. Parma had offered him four and a half billion [Italian Lira] for three years. He would become their coach, with Arrigo Sacchi as the technical director. He thought about it overnight, but then he refused the offer, and I had to call Sacchi to inform him.”

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