Gianluca Vialli told Roberto Mancini Italy must triumph at the 2026 World Cup the last twice the two great friends were together.
Former Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea striker Vialli died aged 58 last Friday, having been re-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021.
Vialli served as head of delegation for the Azzurri until last month, working closely with his long-time friend Mancini – his strike partner during a hugely successful spell at Sampdoria – as they won Euro 2020.
Following Vialli’s passing, Mancini described him as his “little brother” and pledged to dedicate any future successes with Italy to him.
On Tuesday, Mancini revealed Vialli demanded he leads the Azzurri to glory in the United States, Mexico and Canada in three years’ time.
“I went to visit Luca in London in December, and I’ll be honest, I was a little scared,” Mancini said during an appearance on RAI 1 show Porta a Porta.
“He woke up, we laughed, joked around, we called [former Sampdoria team-mate] Attilio Lombardo on the phone. He told me, ‘I am 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.”
Ciao Gianluca, you will forever be remembered pic.twitter.com/5IDKMTSZaL
— Italy (@Azzurri_En) January 6, 2023
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