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Roberto Mancini pays emotional tribute to 'little brother' Gianluca Vialli

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Roberto Mancini pays emotional tribute to 'little brother' Gianluca Vialli

‘We met at 16 and never left each other’s side’: Roberto Mancini pays emotional tribute to ‘little brother’ Gianluca Vialli following his tragic death from cancer on Friday… as the Italy boss spoke of their shared pain and joy at Wembley

  • Roberto Mancini paid emotional tribute to Gianluca Vialli following his passing
  • The former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea striker died of cancer at the age of 58
  • He and Mancini have been teammates at Sampdoria from an early age
  • The two shared the heartache of losing the 1992 Champions League final
  • Vialli is a member of Mancini’s coaching staff for the Euros triumph in 2021

Roberto Mancini has paid emotional tribute to ‘little brother’ Gianluca Vialli – who passed away on Friday aged 58.

Vialli lost his long battle with cancer on Friday prompting many emotional tributes from across the football landscape. The former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea striker has touched many lives in football, though perhaps none as important as Mancini, also 58.

He was given the all clear in April 2020 but sadly it came back.

Roberto Mancini has paid emotional tribute to his 'little brother' Gianluca Vialli who has died aged 58

Roberto Mancini has paid emotional tribute to his ‘little brother’ Gianluca Vialli who has died aged 58

The two were together at Sampdoria from a young age. The club reached its zenith when they reached the Champions League final in 1992, but were narrowly beaten by Barcelona – Mancini and Vialli were both part of the side that day and would avenge their heartbreak at Wembley together 29 years later .

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Speaking to Corriere Dello Sport after the tragic passing of his friend, Mancini praised his character and revealed that he had visited him just a week before where Vialli was ‘powerless, with a small voice’ but remained ‘ very clear’.

At Sampdoria, they were nicknamed ‘the goal twins’ for their prowess at the top of the pitch. While Vialli left for Juventus shortly after losing to Barcelona in 1992, they remained close.

Vialli and Mancini were inseparable from an early age - nicknamed the 'Goal Twins' at Sampdoria

Vialli and Mancini were inseparable from an early age – nicknamed the ‘Goal Twins’ at Sampdoria

Vialli joined Mancini’s Italy coaching staff in 2019 and together they enjoyed success as their side defeated England in the Euro 2020 final.

‘We met at 16 years old and never left each other’s side,’ says Mancini. ‘Italy’s youth and senior teams, Samp, the highs, the lows, the victories and the defeats.

Those two nights at Wembley – many years ago we wept with pain and bitterness, and then we wept with joy as if fate had brought us together before he passed away.

‘He played an important role in us winning the European Championship. The players love him.’

‘Gianluca gave us courage that we didn’t know and he used to fight his disease so hard that he was able to be with us as much as possible,’ added Mancini.

‘Gianluca is the best of us, a perfect, brave man. It was a privilege to be his friend, his team-mate in football and life.’

Vialli’s death comes just weeks after the passing of AC Milan and Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, who died aged 53 after being diagnosed with leukemia three years earlier.

Mancini, who also played with Mihajlovic at Sampdoria, referred to his passing in his tribute to Vialli.

‘Just a few days after Sinisa died I lost another brother, or younger brother as I like to call him,’ he said.

In his last meeting with Vialli last year, Mancini revealed what he said and said he would work hard to ‘offer something to him’, which they had ‘dreamed of all their lives’.

‘We talked a bit about everything, he even asked me about the get-together in December with the young people. He wanted to know the progress of the project.

‘With his strength, I will step forward to offer him something related, which we have been dreaming of for a long time.’