Gianluca Vialli, who had his wife Cathryn by his side until the end

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In his battle with cancer Gianluca Vialliwho died in London at the age of 58, always had his wife by his side Cathryn White-Cooper and the two daughters Sophia and Olivia. Now the women in his life have had to say goodbye, and are locked in their mourning in the UK capital along with the champion’s 87-year-old mother. Silent, as is their style. Cathryn has never granted interviews nor did she make herself noticed at fashion shows or gala evenings. But when she was there, she was next to her Gianluca di lei. In February 2019 Vialli had received the «Facchetti» award and was next to him yesterday. She was moved, hearing him say that “the battle for the disease continues and I won’t give up”.

Gianluca and Cathryn had met in 1998 in London, when he was a Chelsea footballer. She, a model of South African origins, was an interior decorator. For Vialli it was love at first sight, Cathryn had given in only after four months of courtship. The two they had been married in secret at Ashby Castle, in Northampton, in front of a few relatives and friends, on August 26, 2003, then giving the news of the wedding only through a press release to Ansa. Since then the couple has always lived away from the spotlight, just like their two daughters Sofia and Olivia, whose age is not even known.

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Precisely for his daughters and his wife, the former champion had found the strength to fight like “a lion”, as his closest friends, such as Roberto Mancini, have always said. Even when the pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in 2017, had caused him to lose up to 16 kilos, as well as hair and beard. «My daughters helped me draw my eyebrows» Vialli had told in 2020 al timesadding: «I even asked my wife what tricks to use. We laughed, you have to laugh, you need to find the funny side, but there were also days where I locked myself in the bathroom to cry.”

The blue head of delegation had returned to talking about his family during an interview with Alessandro Cattelan in the docu-series on Netflix A Simple Question: «Today I know that I have a duty to behave in a certain way towards people, towards my wife, towards my daughters, because I don’t know how long I will live. Then you have this opportunity to write the letters and sort things out. I am convinced that our children follow our example more than our words. I have less time to lead by example, now that I know I won’t die of old age. My every behavior leads me to think like this. In this sense I try to be a positive example: I try to teach them that happiness depends on the perspective from which you look at life, that you don’t have to put on airs, listen more and talk less. Laugh often, help others. This is the secret of happiness.”

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In those words is the touching spiritual testament of a great man. That last year, before the 2021 European Championship final, he had given an equally moving speech speaking to the national team in the center of Coverciano. So Vialli, struggling to hold back tears, had read an excerpt from a speech by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena”: «The honor belongs to the man in the arena. The man whose face is marked by dust, sweat and blood. The man who fights bravely, who makes mistakes repeatedly, knowing that there is no company worthy of the name that is free from errors and shortcomings. for a just cause. The man who, when things go well, finally knows the triumph of great conquests and who, when things go wrong, he falls knowing he dared». Vialli as “the man in the arena” fought with courage. For five years.

More stories from Vanity Fair that may interest you:

-Gianluca Vialli, his words on the disease

– Because Maradona is still with us

– From Benzema to Leao, football crowns its new kings

Source: Vanity Fair

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