On Friday, Italian football has been devastated by the loss of a true icon, as Gianluca Vialli tragically passed away at the age 58 following a long battle with cancer.

Since his early days at Sampdoria, the late legend had been associated with his striking partner Roberto Mancini. The two men led the Blucerchiati towards an unforgettable Scudetto trophy in 1991 and a European Cup final in the following year.

The eternal friends then reunited when Mancini took the helm of the Italian national team and asked Vialli to join him as a team coordinator.

In a recent interview, the Azzurri manager recalled his last meeting with Vialli when he visited his late friend in his London hospital on December 29.

“We had postponed the meeting because a week earlier, Gianluca had asked me to wait, as he wanted to reserve all his remaining energy for the last phase of his fight, like a true lion,” Mancini told la Gazzetta dello Sport via ilBianconero.

“He was powerless, with a low voice, but very lucid. We talked a bit about everything, he even asked me how the December camp had went with the youngsters.

“He filled me with questions: he wanted to know everything, and how our project was progressing.”

The two men had previously met in November for the launching of a docu-film on Sampdoria’s golden generation

“In our previous meeting, he looked very tired, but he wanted to be there at all costs, for him, for us,. His love for Samp was immense, just like the national team.

“From Genoa, we returned together to Milano, I accompanied him to the airport, in Linate. But as for the flight to London had wanted to do it all alone, ​​still strong, even if he couldn’t be as he once was.”

Sadly for Mancini, he had also lost another great friend and teammate when Sinisa Mihajlovic passed away last month.