The programme for this Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace pays tribute to Gianluca Vialli.
The legendary former Chelsea player and manager passed away last week at the age of 58 and our matchday publication honours his legacy with a series of features celebrating his life and career, with a focus on his achievements at the Bridge.
Vialli won six trophies in his time as a Blue – five of them as player-manager – and helped to transform us from a mid-table club to serial winners as one of the figureheads of our incredibly popular team of the late 1990s and early 2000s. More than that, he captured our hearts with his charm, his charisma and his commitment to the club.
In this weekend’s programme, we recall his impact on English and Italian football, speak to his friend and former team-mate Graeme Le Saux, and hear from Vialli himself as we republish one of his most candid interviews about Chelsea, given to programme editor Richard Godden in 2017.
Vialli scored 40 goals in 88 games here, he won the FA Cup twice, as well as the League Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Charity Shield, but he will be best remembered for the way he made us feel – the fans at Stamford Bridge loved him and continued to chant his name long after his departure in September 2000. He never forgot that bond.
‘I always had a fantastic relationship with the fans,’ he said. ‘They appreciated the fact that I signed for Chelsea in the first place and then, when I went through a difficult time, they were so supportive.
‘They loved what we did while I was manager and one of my fondest memories is that relationship I had with the fans here.’
The programme’s regular historical content also takes us back to those days, as we relive the 1998/99 season when Vialli’s Blues had a tilt at the title in our Premier League Years feature, and examine the impact of the league’s first all-foreign XI, which he selected for our Boxing Day fixture at Southampton in 1999.
You can pick up your copy from the programme sellers around the stadium on matchday, or by visiting the online shop of our publications partner Reach Sport.