Skip to main content

Italy Euro 2020 staff: How Gianluca Vialli returned to football after battling cancer

Gianluca Vialli
(Image credit: Getty)

One of the most heart-warming sights at Euro 2020 has been to see Gianluca Vialli back on the touchline with Italy - as Roberto Mancini's assistant manager.

The 'Goal Twins' of Sampdoria, as they were dubbed, have reunited on the coaching staff of the Azzurri, helping to lead Italy all the way to the final four of the tournament. What's made the journey all the more poignant, are the personal battles that former Juventus and Chelsea star Vialli has faced along the way. 

Vialli revealed in 2018 that he underwent eight months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy for cancer. Though the Italian has kept much of his illness quiet, however, announced in 2020 that he had recovered from the disease once more.

"Gianluca Vialli has been given the all-clear following a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer," Chelsea FC announced on their social channels in April 2020. "Amazing news."

Vialli has largely remained out of football since leaving Watford in the early 2000s, but joined the Italy coaching staff in the run-up to Euro 2020 - before its eventual postponement. 

The former striker has even written a book - Goals: Inspirational Stories to Help Tackle Life's Challenges (opens in new tab) - about what he's been through. 

"I considered it a phase of my life that had to be lived with courage and from which to learn something," he said of his time with cancer. "I knew it was hard to have to tell others, to tell my family. You would never want to hurt the people who love you: my parents, my brothers and my sister, my wife Cathryn, our little girls Olivia and Sofia.

"It gives you a sense of shame, as if it is your fault. I would wear a sweater under my shirt so others did not notice anything, that I would still be the Vialli they knew.

"Then I decided to tell my story and put it in the book... I hope my story can inspire other people at difficult times in their life."

Subscribe to FourFourTwo today (opens in new tab) and get a FREE England Euro 96 shirt!


CALENDAR Euro 2020 fixtures and dates: Full schedule and how to watch every match of the 2021 summer tournament

FOR YOUR HOME Euro 2020 wall chart: Download free with full schedule, fixtures and dates

REFS Euro 2020 referees revealed: who are they, how were they selected and will VAR be in use?

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Mark White
Mark White

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.