06 Jan 2023


The LMA is very deeply saddened following the passing of member, former manager and friend Gianluca Vialli, who has died aged 58 after a long battle with illness.

Gianluca was one of the most outstanding players of his generation, and once commanded a world-record transfer fee of £12.5 million when he moved from Sampdoria to Juventus. In 1996, he came to England with Chelsea, where he quickly became a fans’ favourite and leader amongst his teammates.

In February 1998, Gianluca took over as player-manager of Chelsea, and in doing so became the first Italian to manage in the Premier League. With Chelsea deep into the final rounds of the League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup, Gianluca steered Chelsea to a cup double in the early months of his managerial career, earning the record as the youngest winning manager of a UEFA competition at the time.

Further success quickly followed in the 1998-99 season, with a UEFA Super Cup victory over Real Madrid and a third-place finish in the Premier League, earning Chelsea qualification to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

He led Chelsea to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League in 2000 and won his fourth trophy, beating Aston Villa in the 2000 FA Cup Final.

Gianluca managed Watford in the First Division for one season in 2001-02, before turning his attentions to other passions. He remained a valued member of the LMA and returned to football in 2019 as Delegation Chief of Roberto Mancini’s Italy senior men’s national team that went on to win the UEFA European Championship in 2021, with Gianluca on the touchline.

Paying tribute, LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan OBE said: “I feel privileged to have known Gianluca personally for 15 years. 

“He was always supportive of our work at the LMA. He showed a particular interest in the career development of younger coaches and managers, a true reflection of his genuine humility and his care for his colleagues throughout football.

“We have lost one of the kindest and most charismatic men we have ever met in the world of sport.

“Our sincere condolences are with Gianluca’s wife Cathryn and all of his family and friends at such a sad time.”

LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson added: “Gianluca came to England as one of the game’s most revered players, at a time when the Premier League was beginning to attract the best global talent. 

“His footballing ability and leadership qualities were clear for all to see from day one at Chelsea. The early success he enjoyed in his managerial career showed the promise of a coach armed with the tactical nous of the Italian greats.

“He was a passionate football man, who cared deeply about the game and its future. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”