Gianlucca is a legend of world football and one of Italy’s greatest-ever strikers. During his twenty years long career as a professional footballer he has scored 259 goals at club level, 16 goals with the national team, 11 goals with the under 21 national team for a total of 286 goals in more than 500 appearances. Since retiring, he has gone into management and punditry and is a commentator for Sky Sport Italia.
He started his career at Cremonese in 1980 in his native Italy where he made 105 league appearances scoring 23 goals. His performances impressed Sampdoria who signed him in 1984. During which time he scored 85 league goals, won 3 Italian cups, the Serie A and the European Cup Winners Cup.
Italian Serie A Career
At Sampdoria he formed a prolific strike partnership with team mate and childhood friend Roberto Mancini, earning the nickname The Goal Twins. With Vialli at his best, Sampdoria had the most successful era in its history. They won their first ever Serie A championship in the 1990–91 season, in which Vialli was league top scorer with 19 goals, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1990) – where he scored both goals in the 2–0 win over Anderlecht in the final – and three Italian Cups (in 1985, 1988 and 1989). They also reached the European Cup final in 1992, losing to Spain’s Barcelona.
Vialli transferred to Juventus for a World record £12.5 million in 1992. During this time he won the Italian Cup, the Serie A, Italian Supercup, UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup.
Gianluca joined Chelsea in 1996 and instantly became a superstar of the Premiership, and the following season became player-manager for Chelsea, who were already in the semi-finals of the Coca Cola Cup and the quarter finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and went on to win both competitions under Vialli, as well as finishing 4th in the Premier League. In beating VfB Stuttgart at the Cup Winners’ Cup final on 13 May 1998, 33 years and 308 days old Vialli became the youngest coach to ever win a UEFA competition. The record stood for thirteen years until 18 May 2011 when FC Porto’s André Villas-Boas won the Europa League at the age of 33 years and 213 days.
He won the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Super Cup, during his time with Chelsea. He is one of nine footballers to have won the three main European club competitions and is the only player in European footballing history to have winner’s and runner’s up medals in all three main European club competitions.
In 2006, Vialli released The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures, co-written with his close friend and reputable football journalist, Gabriele Marcotti. Written over a period of two and a half years from November 2003 until early 2006, the book discusses the differences between English and Italian football. Vialli is donating the proceeds of the book to the “Fondazione Vialli e Mauro per la ricerca e lo sport”, which is a charitable foundation he founded together with former player Massimo Mauro in order to raise funds for research into cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Since the late 2000s Vialli works as a TV football commentator for Sky Italia. In 2007 he was linked with a move to the managers position at Queens Park Rangers, following the club takeover by Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone and the dismissal of John Gregory as manager, but ultimately declined any interest in the job. During Euro 2012, the 47-year-old former player appeared as pundit for BBC’s coverage of the tournament.