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Mancini: Italy will play for late Vialli in Euro qualifier vs. England

Michael Regan - UEFA / UEFA / Getty

European champion Italy wants to "do well" against England in its first Euro 2024 qualifier as a tribute to late former striker Gianluca Vialli, coach Roberto Mancini said Monday.

Vialli, who died in January at the age of 58 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer, was Mancini's best friend and longtime strike partner in their playing days at Sampdoria in the 1980s and 1990s.

The former Juventus, Chelsea, and Italy striker played a significant role in Italy's European Championship title-winning campaign in 2021, assisting Mancini despite having been diagnosed in 2017.

"I've already talked about it with the players. For us, it will be important to remember him. It's as if he were with us," Mancini told reporters.

"He had his place and it's not easy for us. We must try to do well also for him," he added.

The encounter with England on Thursday is the Italian national team's first match since Vialli's death, and the players will wear a special shirt with a message dedicated to the football great inside it.

Ahead of the match at the Diego Maradona stadium in Naples, a "play of light" is also planned in tribute to Vialli, the Italian federation said.

Italy, who beat England on penalties to win the European Championship in 2020 but failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, then plays Malta on Sunday.

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