Antonio Conte pays touching tribute to ‘inspiration’ Gianluca Vialli after death at 58

Antonio Conte pays touching tribute to ‘inspiration’ Gianluca Vialli after death at 58

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has paid touching tribute to Gianluca Vialli following the death of his close friend and former team-mate.

Chelsea and Italy icon Vialli sadly passed away in a London hospital on Friday aged just 58 after a second battle with pancreatic cancer.

His passing led to an outpouring of grief and glowing tributes from across the world of football and beyond, with players, managers, fans and pundits past and present all hailing both his supreme footballing abilities and warm character off the pitch.

Conte pulled out of his scheduled press conference ahead of Tottenham’s FA Cup meeting with Portsmouth on Friday and instead handed the reins to assistant Cristian Stellini after learning of Vialli’s death, though was in the dugout as normal as Harry Kane’s goal sealed a 1-0 third-round win on Saturday.

The Italian has since paid heartfelt tribute to Vialli on social media, posting a lovely picture of the duo catching up at a London restauraunt in 2022.

“Having dinner together in London a few months ago as we had fun remembering all our adventures and battles on the field,” Conte wrote. “Unfortunately in these last few years you had to fight a great and terrible battle in life.

“I told you and wrote that you have always been an inspiration to me as my captain and for how you were proving to be strong, proud and brave, fighting like a lion against this disease. Always in my heart my friend. Ciao Gianluca.”

Conte and Vialli were team-mates at Juventus between 1992-96, winning a host of major silverware together including the Serie A title and Champions League, plus the Uefa Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.

In Pictures | Gianluca Vialli

(Bongarts/Getty Images)
(Bongarts/Getty Images)
17th June 1996: New Chelsea signing Gianlucia Vialli tries on his new shirt on the terraces at Stamford Bridg (PA)
17th June 1996: New Chelsea signing Gianlucia Vialli tries on his new shirt on the terraces at Stamford Bridg (PA)
2nd November 1996: Gianluca Vialli takes to the air to control the ball before scoring Chelsea’’s second goal during the Manchester United v Chelsea Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, (Getty Images)
2nd November 1996: Gianluca Vialli takes to the air to control the ball before scoring Chelsea’’s second goal during the Manchester United v Chelsea Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, (Getty Images)
11th July 2021: Gianluca Vialli, Delegation Chief of Italy celebrates with The Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team’s victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium (Getty Images)
11th July 2021: Gianluca Vialli, Delegation Chief of Italy celebrates with The Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team’s victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium (Getty Images)
circa 1984: Sampdoria striker Gianluca Vialli (l) rides the challenge of Paolo Pochesci of Ascoli (r) during a match in Genoa, Italy (Getty Images)
circa 1984: Sampdoria striker Gianluca Vialli (l) rides the challenge of Paolo Pochesci of Ascoli (r) during a match in Genoa, Italy (Getty Images)
5th March 1995: Gianlucsa Vialli during a match against Inter Milan at the San siro Stadium (Getty Images)
5th March 1995: Gianlucsa Vialli during a match against Inter Milan at the San siro Stadium (Getty Images)
26th November 1995: Gianluca Vialli of Juventus vies with Faustino Asparilla  of Parma (Getty Images)
26th November 1995: Gianluca Vialli of Juventus vies with Faustino Asparilla of Parma (Getty Images)
4th August 1996: Gianluca Vialli with the Umbro trophy after today’s Umbro Cup final against Ajax at the City Ground, Nottingham (PA)
4th August 1996: Gianluca Vialli with the Umbro trophy after today’s Umbro Cup final against Ajax at the City Ground, Nottingham (PA)
circa 1996: New Chelsea signing Gianluca Vialli (C) looks on with team mates during a training session after signing from Juventus in London (Getty Images)
circa 1996: New Chelsea signing Gianluca Vialli (C) looks on with team mates during a training session after signing from Juventus in London (Getty Images)
28th  February 1998: Chelsea’s Gianluca Vialli during a FA Carling Premiership match vs Liverpool (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
28th February 1998: Chelsea’s Gianluca Vialli during a FA Carling Premiership match vs Liverpool (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
16th April 1998: Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea out-jumps a Vicenza defender during the match between Chelsea v Vicenza in the European Cup Winners’’ Cup Semi-final played at Stamford Bridge, London, England. Chelsea won the match 3-1 to go into the Final. (Getty Images)
16th April 1998: Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea out-jumps a Vicenza defender during the match between Chelsea v Vicenza in the European Cup Winners’’ Cup Semi-final played at Stamford Bridge, London, England. Chelsea won the match 3-1 to go into the Final. (Getty Images)

Conte was also friends with Serie A legend Sinisa Mihajlovic, who died last month aged 53 after a long fight with leukaemia. Tottenham mourned the passing of fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone in October at 61 shortly after he was also diagnosed with leukaemia.