Chelsea icon Gianluca Vialli grew up living in 60-room castle – then used it for holidays

The late great football icon Gianluca Vialli grew up in a stunning 60-room castle thanks to his father’s millions – later using the huge family residence as a holiday home.

Chelsea hero Gianluca Vialli grew up in a stunning 60-room castle that he later used as an occasional holiday home – thanks to his father being a self-made millionaire.

Living with his parents and four siblings, the Viallis had plenty of room to move around despite being a large family with the Castello di Belgioioso their humble abode.javascript:void(0)

Vialli, who sadly passed away at the age of just 58 this week following a second battle with pancreatic cancer, went on to become a world famous football star and Chelsea icon.

The 15th century castle became the family home thanks to his father’s wealth, with Vialli going on to have two daughters after marrying Cathryn White-Cooper in 2003.

Castello di Belgioioso is described as a culturally rich in historical and artistic value with a grand staircase, atrium and extended grounds.

Vialli lived in London despite his coaching career there coming to an end long before, with his family flying over to visit him in hospital back in December.

Gianluca Vialli and his family lived in the stunning Castello di Belgioioso
Gianluca Vialli and his family lived in the stunning Castello di Belgioioso (Image: REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Gianluca Vialli won the European Cup Winners' Cup as a Chelsea player among other trophies
Gianluca Vialli won the FA Cup as a Chelsea player and was a hero to fans (Image: Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Those visitors included his 87-year-old mother as well as his brother, whom he grew up with the the huge castle before he began his football career.

Vialli, who made 59 appearance for the Italy national side during a playing career in which he had spells for Cremonese, Sampdoria, Juventus and finally in west London.

Having quickly adapted to life in London, the prolific striker helped the club to FA Cup glory in 1996/97 before becoming player-manager of the Stamford Bridge outfit – scoring a total of 40 goals across 88 games.

Gianluca Vialli's father was a self-made millionaire - which gave them a comfortable upbringing
Gianluca Vialli’s father was a self-made millionaire – which gave them a comfortable upbringing

He led the team to League Cup glory the following season as well as the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and finally the FA Charity Shield in 2000.

Vialli also showed his lighter side during his time in west London, attributing his goalscoring exploits in 1997 to having an active sex life.

“It is because I am busy making love as much as possible,” Vialli told the Mirror when asked about his predatory instincts in front of goal.

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Vialli enjoyed himself away from the pitch
Vialli enjoyed himself away from the pitch (Image: Getty Images)

“I feel extremely fit. In the summer I worked a lot. Swimming, bicycle work, running, and making love as as much as possible. The only trouble is that it’s not too good for my back.”

That prompted Chelsea’s player-manager Ruud Gullit to respond: “Is that what he said? As long as he’s happy.”

Years later, he got a great reaction after appearing on Goals on Sunday opposite Ben Shepard and Chris Kamara for his assessment of how good it feels to score a goal.

Vialli was married to Cathryn White-Cooper
Vialli was married to Cathryn White-Cooper (Image: Olycom Spa/REX/Shutterstock)

He said: “I hate former players saying scoring a goal is like reaching an orgasm… because you know, it’s an unbelievable feeling. When I scored four goals in less than 60 minutes I thought, is this possible? Four orgasms in 60 minutes!

“No. For me scoring a goal was like sticking my fingers in a socket, like an electric shock. You get a shock without the pain. You feel a tremendous amount of energy and you do some silly things that you are ashamed of when you see them afterwards.”

Having left Chelsea he spent time with Watford before moving into punditry, joining the Italy national side under Robert Mancini almost 20 years later.

In that role he helped Italy to Euro 2020 glory at Wembley with a win over England on penalties, holding the trophy aloft on the pitch in his role as delegation chief.

Gianluca Vialli, Delegation Chief of Italy poses with The Henri Delaunay Trophy during an Italy Portrait Session following their side's victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021 in London, England.
Gianluca Vialli helped Italy to Euro 2020 glory in the city he loved (Image: UEFA via Getty Images)

Vialli stepped down from his role after revealing that his pancreatic cancer had returned in December of 2021, with his passing announced over a year later on January 6.

Following news of his illness, Chelsea fans revealed a classy tribute during their recent clash against Manchester United, with another tribute to ahead of their next home fixture against Crystal Palace.

Tributes from the football community have been heartfelt following the news of Vialli’s passing, with his impact on European football felt across the continent.

Sky Sports colleague Graeme Souness broke down in tears as he spoke about his friend. “He was just a truly nice human being. I went to Italy when I was 31 years old and he was 20. He was just fabulous to be around,” Souness said.

Graeme Souness broke down in tears after news of Gianluca Vialli's death
Graeme Souness broke down in tears after news of Gianluca Vialli’s death (Image: Sky Sports)

Adding: “He was such a fun-loving guy, he was full of mischief, he was such a warm individual and a fabulous player. But I don’t want to talk about his football, I want to talk about him as a human being.

“When I hear his name, and I’m gonna hear a lot of his name, correctly so with people playing plaudits to him and saying magnificent things about his playing ability, yeah. But what a human being.

“Above all that, what a human being. My condolences go to his family and his wife. They’ve been blessed that their paths crossed, the kids were blessed they had a dad like that, his wife was blessed she was married to a man like that.”

Vialli, pictured in December 2022
Vialli, pictured in December 2022 (Image: PA)

But after speaking for eight minutes, Souness was overcome with emotion and was unable to continue as he broke down in tears.

Other to pay tribute to the star included Premier League great Alan Shearer, who wrote: “RIP Gianluca Vialli. What a lovely lovely man and a wonderful player he was.”

Chelsea’s official Twitter account tweeted: “You’ll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli.” As Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti wrote: “Goodbye my friend. RIP Gianluca Vialli.”

Another former Sky Sports colleague Chris Kamara said: “Devastated to hear the news RIP Luca – a fabulous career and a great fella. A wonderful life has been cut short. I am well and truly gutted Gianluca Vialli it was an honour to have known you.”

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