Mancini and Vialli: A romance from Genoa to the world

Mancini and Vialli: A romance from Genoa to the world

The main delegate of Italy, Gianluca Vialli, has become a symbol of the Azzurri team and after the victory against Austria, yesterday's hug with Roberto Mancini was much stronger than what the images that are going around the world express.

Mancini's former teammate at Sampdoria played 56 times for the Italian national team. But it was his time at Samp and Juve that made his name in the history of football in both Italy and Europe.

He won the Champions League with Juventus in 1995-96 and played in the European Cup final with Sampdoria in 1992. Vialli had also won the Scudetto and three Coppa Italia titles with Samp before going on to complete a domestic double with the Bianconeri in 1994-95.

Mancini and Vialli represent the heights of Sampdoria as a club and are now together again with the Azzurri.

When Vialli was appointed, he said the role of chief delegate and working with Mancini "will keep us all young" and yesterday the two Blucerchiati European Cup protagonists in 1992 relived their younger days together at Wembley.

Samp played his first European Cup final in 1992 at the old London venue, when Barcelona eventually won the match 1-0 after extra time. It was Ronald Koeman who secured victory in the 112th minute for the Blaugrana, and when an intense match between Italy and Austria went into extra time on Saturday, it brought back memories of Mancini and Vialli's previous experience in the English capital.

Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina came off the bench to help Italy secure a 2-1 win after extra time and the way Vialli and Mancini embraced, mouths open and eyes alight with joy, showed a feeling of liberation.

Vialli's story took a challenging turn in recent years as he faced greater fears than quarter-final exits or European Cup Final defeats.

The former striker battled an unwelcome enemy when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. "I hope he tires out and allows me to live out the years ahead in peace," said Vialli, who was still undergoing cancer treatment when the Azzurri appointed him chief delegate.

The former Italy star was given the go-ahead in April 2020, after two years of struggling, but admitted he is still "very scared" of the illness returning.

"You never know until a few years have passed with no problems," Vialli told The Times, but said he was feeling fine physically.

After more than a year without physical contact with others due to the coronavirus pandemic, the hug between the 'goal twins' was stronger than words.

Italy was tested by Austria, but the embrace between Mancini and Vialli concluded another challenge in which the Nazionale showed that they can suffer, fight and achieve their goals. It took 120 minutes to recover the hugs that have been lost during the pandemic. Without a doubt Wembley remains a special place for the two ancient legends of Sampdoria. #propsoccer

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