Former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli has revealed that he has overcome a battle with cancer.
The 54-year-old is still revered as a Blues legend, having played for the club between 1996 and 1999 – winning the FA Cup, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup – and also managed at Stamford Bridge between1998 and 2000, again lifting the FA Cup, and the two European trophies.
Villa won over 50 caps for Italy but has been out of football since 2002, when he left a managerial role with Watford.
The ex-Juventus star has subsequently worked as a pundit, and was employed by the BBC during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and has now revealed that, during his time out of the limelight, he has struggled with, and beaten, cancer.
“I would have gladly done without it. But it was not possible,” Vialli told Corriere della Sera.
“And then I considered it simply a phase of my life that had to be lived with courage and from which to learn something. I knew it was hard and hard to have to tell others, to my family.
“You would never want to hurt the people who love you: my parents, my sister and brothers, my wife Cathryn, our little girls Olivia and Sofia. And it takes you as a sense of shame, as if what happened to you was your fault.
“I walked around with a sweater under my shirt, because the others did not notice anything, to be still the Vialli they knew.”
Vialli says he is now in the process of returning to the shape he was in before his diagnosis, though he is wary of a recurrence.
“It’s been a year and I’m back to having a very good physical condition,” he added.
“But I still have no certainty of how the match will end. I hope my story can serve to inspire people at the crucial intersection of life.
“And I hope that mine is a book to keep on the nightstand, to read one or two stories before falling asleep or in the morning as soon as you wake up.”