Gianluca Vialli, one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of Italian football, was born in Cremona on 9 July 1964.
He spent his youth at the Cremonese academy and made his Serie A debut with Sampdoria, aged 20. Along with Roberto Mancini, he led Sampdoria to three Italian Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and one Serie A title. The team also lost a historic European Cup final to Barcelona in Wembley in 1992.
Vialli then moved to Juventus and continued to add to his personal trophy haul with one UEFA Cup, a Serie A title, an Italian Cup and the UEFA Champions League, this last one as captain of the team.
Vialli then joined English club Chelsea aged 32. He was able to win more trophies there too, some of them as player-manager: an FA Cup, a League Cup, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.
Unfortunately, Vialli cannot boast as many triumphs with Italy. After losing a European U21 Championship final on penalties, Vialli made his debut for the senior team at 21 years of age and made the squad for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
He became a regular under head coach Azeglio Vicini, with whom he shared disappointing defeats in the semi-finals at both the 1988 EUROs and the 1990 home World Cup.
Vialli was expected to be “the man” at the World Cup in Italy, but Totò Schillaci’s breakthrough made him the right-hand man instead of the superstar as many predicted.
He did not get along with head coach Arrigo Sacchi, so he won his 59th and last cap on 19 December 1992 in a match against Malta, where he scored his sixteenth and last goal for the Azzurri.