Gianluca Vialli's widow pays tribute to 'loving husband and father'

Gianluca Vialli's widow pays tribute to 'loving husband and father'

Gianluca Vialli’s heartbroken widow pays tribute to ‘loving husband and father’ after the former Chelsea and Juventus striker died last week from pancreatic cancer

  • Vialli’s wife Cathryn White-Cooper described him as ‘a sportsman of great talent’
  • She said Vialli was ‘a loving husband and father’ whose passing was ‘devastating’
  • Ex-Chelsea striker Vialli died last week aged 58 after a long battle with cancer

The heartbroken wife of football’s Mr Nice Gianluca Vialli has broken her silence and paid a heartfelt tribute to him.

Cathryn White-Cooper said of her husband of 20 years: ‘Luca was a sportsman of great talent and respected by all but he was also a loving husband and father,’ in comments to Italian media.

The mother of their two daughters Olivia and Sofia, added: ‘We are all devastated. Thank you all for your love and support.’

Her sister Libby said: ‘He was a fantastic man, not only an exceptional sportsman, but a man with a story to tell, with his courage and his words, he transmitted an important message to all those fighting against cancer.’

Former Chelsea, Juventus and Sampdoria striker Vialli died in a London hospital last week aged 58, after a courageous five-year battle against pancreatic cancer, surrounded by his family.

Gianluca Vialli and wife Cathryn White-Cooper are pictured together at the St Clare’s Foundation Amore Valentine’s Ball, London, Britain, February 2013

‘Luca was a sportsman of great talent and respected by all but he was also a loving husband and father,’ White-Coope said of Vialli

Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Tottenham Hotspur played at Stamford Bridge in London, England (19 Dec 1998)

Tributes poured in from footballing greats for Vialli, who also represented Italy at the 1986 and 1990 World Cup, with his former club Chelsea saying:’ You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and all of football. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli.’

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini, who was a teammate of Vialli’s before bringing him in as a national team assistant coach, described him as his ‘little brother’ and ‘a perfect, courageous man.’

Ex-Sampdoria teammate turned TV pundit Graeme Souness, known as one of the game’s hardmen, broke down in tears as he paid a tearful tribute to him on Sky Sports saying Vialli was ‘still in the fight’ but then had to cut short the live TV spot as he was overcome by emotion.

On Saturday and Sunday Serie A matches in Italy all held a minute silence in honour of him, while his home town of Cremona who were due to play Monday said they would be wearing shirts with his picture and the message ‘Ciao Luca’ for their game.

His funeral will be held in London later this month with family sources telling Italian media it would be a ‘joyful’ event as that was what ‘Luca would have wanted’.

A day of public morning has been announced today in Cremona where he was born – the son of a millionaire – and his parents Gianfranco, 90, Marie Theresa, 87, and siblings will hold a Mass for him at the city’s cathedral this evening.

Flags across the city will be flown at half mast and the mayor Gianluca Galimberti has said they are considering renaming the local stadium in honour of Vialli.

Cathryn White-Cooper (L) is pictured with sister Libby (R), March 7, 2019. Libby described her sister’s late husband as ‘a fantastic man, not only an exceptional sportsman, but a man with a story to tell, with his courage and his words’

January 8, 2023 Chelsea players wearing shirts in memory of former Chelsea player Gianluca Vialli during the warm up before the match

Players, officials and fans hold a minutes applause in memory of former Chelsea player Gianluca Vialli prior to the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Manchester, England

21 Sep 1996: Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea during the FA Carling Premiership match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool

Last year Vialli spoke openly about his fight with pancreatic cancer and how it led him to step down from his role as assistant manager to the Italian national team, where he worked alongside close pal and current boss Roberto Mancini.

He said: ‘I was a player and a strong man but also a fragile one and I think someone who might recognise himself, I’m here with my flaws. Fears and desire to do something important.

‘I’m not having a battle with cancer because I don’t think I’d be able to win it, it’s a much stronger opponent than me.

‘Cancer is an unwanted travel campaign, but I can’t help it. It got on the train with me and I have to go on, travel with my head down, never giving up. Hoping that one day this unwanted guest will get tired and let me live peacefully for many more years because there are still many things I want to do.’

Vialli won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and then moved to Chelsea first as a player and then as a manager.

He became a cult figure at Stamford Bridge as he helped the west London side to the European Cup Winners Cup, the League Cup and FA Cup.

His last job in football was as assistant manager with the Italian national side and he helped Mancini win the European Championships as they beat England on penalties in the final at Wembley 2021.

Vialli was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in 2021, having been given the all clear in April of that year following a 17 month battle against the disease.

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