The football world was saddened to hear the news that Gianluca Vialli passed away on Friday morning following his second battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.

The former Chelsea player and manager, who won the Champions League with Juventus and won 59 caps for Italy, will be fondly remembered by any fans of Italian and English football after a glittering career in leagues of both nations.

Here, BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton recalls the 1999/2000 season he spent playing under Vialli during his time as Blues boss.

“Vialli was one of those players who raised the standards of English football”
- Chris Sutton

Vialli arrived at Chelsea from Juventus in 1996 having won the Champions League the season previous in Turin and the Serie A and Coppa Italia double in 1994/95.

The forward was a huge name in Italian football but as Sutton recalls, his reputation followed him to Chelsea as he joined alongside countrymen Roberto Di Matteo and Gianfranco Zola

"I remember being slightly in awe of him as a player because he'd had such a great career," Sutton recalled.

“He arrived in 1996 with the Italian invasion at Chelsea and he was just a brilliant striker, who could play anywhere across the frontline, and a brilliant finisher and scorer of many spectacular goals."

“Vialli even at the end of his career, raised the bar and raised the standards of dedication and training," Sutton says. "Vialli was one of those players who raised the bar in England.”

Gianluca Vialli
Gianluca Vialli celebrates scoring for Chelsea.

Sutton signed for Chelsea for a huge fee at the time of £10million in 1999 and arrived in west London with much expectation in what was Vialli's first year since making the switch from player-manager to full-time manager.

But things didn't go to plan as Sutton struggled to justify the price tag and hit the heights he'd done so at previous club Blackburn Rovers.

"He must’ve been frustrated me but it never, ever showed and I will always have the utmost respect for him because of that," Sutton continued.

"He was a thoroughly decent human being, a real people person and he gave me his time and tried to help me. He didn't have to spend those moments with me, helping me.

Vialli celebrates
The Italian won the FA Cup at Chelsea.

"My finishing at Chelsea wasn’t up to scratch, I struggled and lost a bit of confidence but he spent many an afternoon working on volleying technique and telling me to slow things down.

"I scored a volley when I was up at Celtic after Chelsea against Juventus in the Champions League - I wouldn't have scored that without his coaching.

“He was an excellent coach, anyone that played under him would’ve had real clarity in the instruction which he gave out," Sutton added.

The outpouring of emotion following the tragic news of Vialli's passing with some wonderful tributes across world football is befitting of a man who was held in such high regard.

Vialli was part of Italy's coaching staff most recently
Vialli was part of Italy's coaching staff most recently.

And Sutton felt it was Vialli's warmth of personality, just as much as his brilliance as a player and coach, that drew such adoration.

"He won the FA Cup as manager but he was just so well respected, charismatic and had the most wonderful, wonderful smile," Sutton explained.

"It tells you everything you need to know about the regard he's held in at Chelsea that they gave him the opportunity to become player-manager. It's not easy to make the transition but he made such a good fist of it."

Vialli was most recently working under Roberto Mancini as part of the Italy coaching set-up and played an instrumental role in the Azzurri's trophy-winning campaign at Euro 2020 in London.