Coach Roberto Mancini reveals his close friend Gianluca Vialli told him Italy ‘have to win the 2026 World Cup’ during an emotional final meeting before the ex-striker died from pancreatic cancer, aged 58

  • Roberto Mancini met with Gianluca Vialli before his former team-mate’s passing
  • The Italy boss said Vialli had urged him to lead Italy to the World Cup in 2026
  • Mancini said he hopes to dedicate any future success with the nation to Vialli
  • Vialli and Mancini had been team-mates at Sampdoria from a very young age
  • The pair masterminded Italy’s triumph at the European Championships in 2021 

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has revealed his late team-mate and friend Gianluca Vialli told him the nation has to win the World Cup in 2026 during their final meeting before his death.

Vialli passed away on Friday at the age of 58 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mancini, who has referred to Vialli as his ‘little brother’, said the former striker had called on him to help lead Italy to World Cup glory in 2026. 

Roberto Mancini revealed Gianluca Vialli told him Italy had to win the World Cup in 2026

Roberto Mancini revealed Gianluca Vialli told him Italy had to win the World Cup in 2026

Vialli passed away at the age of 58 on Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer

Vialli passed away at the age of 58 on Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer

‘I went to see Luca in London in December, I was a little scared,’ Mancini told Rai 1, as per La Gazzetta Dello Sport.

‘He woke up, we laughed, joked, we called [former team-mate Attilio] Lombardo. 

‘He told me ‘I’m relaxed, don’t worry’. He was the one trying to raise my spirits. 

‘Gianluca told me we have to win the World Cup in 2026 and that he’ll be there with us. 

‘He certainly will be right there, and we hope to dedicate a great victory to him very soon.’

Vialli and Mancini masterminded Italy's success at the European Championships in 2021

Vialli and Mancini masterminded Italy’s success at the European Championships in 2021

Vialli joined Mancini's coaching staff in 2019 and they tasted success together at Wembley

Vialli joined Mancini’s coaching staff in 2019 and they tasted success together at Wembley 

Italy last won the World Cup in 2006 but have suffered disappointments since, after falling at the group stage in both 2010 and 2014, before failing to qualify for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Mancini had overseen the 2022 qualification campaign, where the newly crowned European champions were beaten by North Macedonia in a playoff.

The 58-year-old will hope to lead Italy to success in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026.

Mancini said Vialli had played a key role in Italy winning the European Championship

Mancini said Vialli had played a key role in Italy winning the European Championship

Vialli and Mancini were inseparable from an early age after becoming team-mates at Sampdoria

Vialli and Mancini were inseparable from an early age after becoming team-mates at Sampdoria  

Mancini and Vialli had a long-standing friendship after meeting as 16-year-olds, before becoming team-mates at Sampdoria.

At Sampdoria, they were nicknamed ‘the goal twins’ for their proficiency at the top of the pitch. 

The club reached the Champions League final in 1992, but they were narrowly beaten by Barcelona. While Vialli left for Juventus shortly after the Wembley defeat to Barcelona in 1992, they remained close.

Vialli joined Mancini’s Italy coaching staff in 2019 and they enjoyed success together as their side beat England in the final of Euro 2020.

Sampdoria paid tribute to Vialli during their Serie A match against Napoli on Sunday, while Chelsea have also paid their respects to their much loved former striker and manager.



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