League Managers Association – GIANLUCA VIALLI

Gianluca Vialli enjoyed great success as manager of Chelsea, where he won five trophies in less than three years, which made him the club’s most successful manager at the time.

As a player, Vialli signed for Chelsea just days after captaining Juventus to victory in the 1996 Champions’ League final against Ajax. It was the crowning moment of a glittering playing career that saw the Italian striker win Serie A titles with Sampdoria and Juventus and become one of the greatest goal scorers in Italian football.

Having played so successfully with Sampdoria and Juventus having signed from his home town club Cremonese, Vialli was lured to Chelsea by Ruud Gullit, arriving at Stamford Bridge on a free transfer.

His tenacious, combative style allied with his pace and eye for goal, instantly made him a favourite with the Chelsea faithful and Vialli crowned his first season in English football with an FA Cup winners’ medal.

Following Ruud Gullit’s departure in February 1998, Vialli was appointed as Chelsea’s manager and enjoyed immediate success. In his first months at the helm he guided the Blues to success in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, League Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

In his first full season in charge of Chelsea, Vialli helped Chelsea qualify for the Champions’ League, finishing third in the Premier League. His stature and international reputation enabled the club to attract stars such as World Cup winners Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps to the club as he tried to instil in his players a genuine belief that they could lift the Premier League title.

Vialli and Chelsea parted company in September 2000, having just taken Chelsea to success in the FA Cup in May 2000 and Charity Shield against Manchester United at the start of the 2000-2001 season.

Vialli consistently stated that he wished to continue his career in football management, whether it be in English football, back in Italy, or elsewhere, and worked hard to gain his UEFA Coaching qualifications.

In the summer of 2001, Watford approached him with a view to succeeding Graham Taylor at Vicarage Road.

After speaking with the directors at Watford, Vialli accepted their offer and began his second stint in English football management with The Hornets as they looked to return to the top flight. His spell at Watford ended in June 2002.

He remains one of the games most earnest and endearing characters.

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