Ex-Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli opens up on pancreatic cancer battle

Gianluca Vialli describes his battle with pancreatic cancer as an ‘unwanted travel companion’ and hopes the illness ‘will get tired and leave peacefully for many years’ as the ex-Chelsea boss helps plot Italy success at Euro 2020 with coach Roberto Mancini

  • Gianluca Vialli has opened up about his several battles with pancreatic cancer 
  • The former Chelsea striker was diagnosed with the illness in 2017 and 2018 
  • Vialli was given the all-clear in 2020 but accepts the after-effects of the illness
  • The Italian hopes he can act as an example to others in similar situations
  • The 56-year-old is working alongside Roberto Mancini and Italy at Euro 2020 

Gianluca Vialli has opened up on his battle with pancreatic cancer and wishes the illness will one day ‘get tired and leave peacefully’ from him.

The former Chelsea striker and manager, who is now working alongside Roberto Mancini with the Italian national team, was first diagnosed with the disease in 2017 and was given the all-clear three years later.

However, the 56-year-old accepts that the long-term effects from the cancer will remain with him but hopes he has acted as an example to other people in similar situations.

Former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli has opened up on his battles with pancreatic cancer 

Vialli (left) is currently working alongside Roberto Mancini (right) and the Italian national team

He told RAI 1’s series Sogno Azzurro, depicting the Italian national team’s journey in Euro 2020: ‘I cannot fight with cancer because I would not be able to win this battle, it is a much stronger opponent than me. 

‘Cancer is an unwanted travel companion, but I can’t help it. It got on the train with me and I have to go ahead (and) travel with my head down, never giving up, hoping that one day this unwanted guest will get tired and leave peacefully for many years because there are still so many things I want to do in this life.

‘I realise that people can look at me, see that I am doing alright, and hope that they might do the same – maybe because I was a footballer and a strong man, but also fragile and vulnerable at the same time, so I think someone may have recognised themselves in this.

Vialli was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and was given the all-clear in 2020 after two illnesses

‘I’m here with all my faults and my many fears, but also with the desire to do something important.’

Vialli underwent several chemotherapy treatment following his diagnosis four years ago and announced in November 2018 that he had overcome the cancer struggle.

But the former striker would be diagnosed with the disease once again a few weeks later but revealed in April 2020 that he was all-clear of the disease.

Vialli (middle row, fifth left) was struggling with cancer when he was appointed by Italy

Whilst struggling with the illness, Vialli was offered the chance to become the chief delegation officer of the national team under head coach Mancini, who he knew from his days at Sampdoria. 

Vialli and Mancini’s former Sampdoria team-mates Attilio Lombardo, who was the national team head coach’s assistant at Manchester City, Alberico Evani and Fausto Salsano make up the rest of the Azzurri’s coaching staff ahead of the European Championships. 

Italy are hoping to impress at this summer’s tournament after missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the first time they had failed to qualify for a major tournament since 1958. 

The former striker had a successful playing career, winning several trophies with Chelsea

Vialli, meanwhile, had a stellar career in England – winning the FA Cup as both a player and a manager with Chelsea, whilst also picking up the League Cup and UEFA Super Cup in his time at west London.

The Italian also managed Watford between 2001 and 2002, with the striker also winning the Serie A and Champions League titles with Juventus. 

He netted 16 goals in 59 appearances for the Italian national team during his playing days, making him the tenth all-time highest scorer for the Azzurri.  

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