GRAEME SOUNESS: I loved Gianluca Vialli – even when I pushed him into a lake! If you meet him for just 15 minutes, you will remember him for the rest of your life
Sportsmail Columnist Graeme Souness played alongside Gianluca Vialli for two years at Sampdoria between 1984 and 1986.
He gave an interview to Sky Sports on Friday, where he broke down remembering his friend.
Vialli died Friday afternoon at age 58 after a battle with aggressive pancreatic cancer.
Sportsmail’s Graeme Souness (pictured) expressed the pain of Gianluca Vialli’s death
I just saw the news 10 minutes before and got a call to do an interview. I didn’t have it easy. I said it on air, but if I had to name 10 people with his qualities, I would have a hard time doing it. That’s how he made an impression on me.
And don’t forget, I was 31 when I met him, he was 20 years old. He is a unique individual. Roberto Mancini’s Trevor Francis and I take him for a beer, and after three bottles they’re rocking and rolling.
They were boys, very different individuals. Mancini is very excited. Vialli controlled his emotions. There was everything to love about Luca.
I haven’t seen him much in recent years. He forced himself to fight alone. But he’s been on my mind for a long time.
In his interview with Sky, Souness said: ‘I can’t tell you what a good man he is. Forget football, he’s a gorgeous soul. He was fantastic all around. He is a fun-loving person, full of mischief, a wonderful footballer and a warm person.
Scottish midfielder Souness (circled left) and Italian striker Vialli (right) are teammates
The duo won the Coppa Italia in 1985, with both players scoring in the final two-legged
‘People will say things about his amazing football ability, and rightly so, but above all, what a great person. The children are blessed to have a father like this and his wife is blessed to marry a man like this.
‘At Sampdoria, my nickname was Charlie. I christened him Handsome. He would stand in front of this full-length mirror in front of all the boys, nothing on, and say, “Charlie, do you think I’m handsome?” while combing her hair.
‘He used to have a lot of hair. I’d say, “Handsome? You’re so f****** handsome”. He would say, “Charlie, you’re right, I’m very f****** handsome”.
‘He does that regularly. Many of the boys didn’t speak much English and would just shake their heads and laugh.
‘He is a warm individual. I can’t ever remember how angry he was. She is a warm soul, a caring soul.
I loved him even when I pushed him into a lake – but later I paid for it with his antics
We play in Milan sometime in the winter. Me and Trevor Francis went out for a walk and looked at this lake and Luca was bent over, tied up, trying to lasso a swan with a loaf of bread in his hand.
We went to the surface and I ended up pushing him into the lake. It was three hours before the game and he had to swim to get out. I paid the price for that. I would come in from practice and my pant legs would rip.
One of my shoes would go missing and I would find it in a trash can covered in food. He would put shaving foam in my shoes and it would pour when I put my foot in.
I can only think of very few people who have impacted my life as much as he has. Not that he did anything for me in particular, it was just witnessing him around other people and the impact he had on them.
If you crossed him once, or were with him for just 15 minutes, you will remember him for the rest of your life. He is a really special person.