This is the extraordinary story of Gianluca Vialli, the lion who does not give up on cancer, the symbol of resilience, the great man with a heart of gold.
It is Vialli who best represents the Italian spirit in this extraordinary and at times painful Euro 2020. Seeing him celebrate with Roberto Mancini for every goal is a moving scene that tells of a wonderful person who has understood due to pancreatic cancer that he cannot have a lot of time available.
Living knowing that you have a life expectancy lower than that of a healthy human being is not easy, but Vialli's attitude is moving Italy and the many families who constantly fight against cancer.
Gianluca Vialli has become Italy's symbol of resilience after his valiant fight against cancerInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Watching Vialli and Roberto Mancini celebrate is like when they were playing for Sampdoria
When a person falls ill with this horrible disease, the pain does not pervade the patient's body but also that of his family who lives the pain in symbiosis: they suffer with him in every moment.
Italy loves Vialli, all the fans are moved when they see him cheering for a goal embraced by the coach Mancini as if they were still young boys with their Sampdoria shirts on.
It is the miracle of football, it is the miracle of the most important religion in Italy after that of the Vatican City.
The Vialli affair deserves more attention from the Italian media because it tells of a great man who hides behind a veil of shyness and sadness, who had an exceptional physique yet today counts the scars on his abdomen.
Vialli is a man who teaches a lot while keeping silent: his is a very rare gift that the 26 players of the national team are lucky enough to be able to learn in this forced coexistence of the European adventure.
A superstitious ritual, revealed by the Italian newspaper Liber, began when the team nearly left him on foot before the Turkey game.
The first to get on the team bus is Francesco Acerbi, the last Gianluigi Donnarumma. Vialli waits in the atrium of Coverciano, the team's HQ. The bus closes the doors pretending to leave and forget Vialli, then stops after a hundred metres and Vialli arrives running.
Everything is repeated exactly as before that tournament opener with Turkey, apart from the detail that that day the bus really was leaving and Vialli jumped on the fly because they had forgotten him, before he was welcomed on board by all the cheerful and amused players.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Defender Leonardo Bonucci has often spoken of 'resilience', or rather of an Italy that knows how to suffer.
Those words full of love were a subtle dedication to Vialli, who does not have to get tired and have stress but who has chosen to accept the post of ambassador of Italy at this tournament as a collaborator with Mancini, his friend for life.
Leonardo Bonucci often speaks about Italy's resillience, which is something Vialli personifies
Matteo Pessina's first goal in this European Championship gave away one of those images that will remain etched in the Italian film.
Immediately after the goal scored by the Atalanta midfielder, the RAI cameras lingered over an exultant Mancini with clenched fists hugging Vialli.
A strong, exciting, almost touching embrace was born between the two. It lasted a few seconds, then the two patted each other on the back and returned to their seats: this image should become a commercial for football in the world in which joy is a small part of the story in the life of an athlete.
Vialli has just turned 57 and in Coverciano he blew out 57 candles of the blue cake given to him by the chefs of the national team together with the team on the anniversary of the 2006 World Cup won in Berlin. It is difficult to think of a better way to celebrate.
Because 'Gianluca the lion' has always dreamed of having a birthday like this. Vialli was born from a noble and wealthy family from Cremona, a very small city in northern Italy located near Milan. Vialli lived in a castle that everyone called 'Castello dei Vialli' for its majesty.
Vialli joined Italy's national set-up when Roberto Mancini was appointed as manager
His life and his professional choices were made exclusively for the love of football: he probably could have lived on his wealth and learned any profession, enjoying the wonderful family history that belongs to him, but he has always chosen to live football with love and sacrifice. Vialli was born to be a man of charisma, to win and to sweat on a football field roaring