Tottenham assistant pays tribute to Gianluca Vialli after tragic passing

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte was excused from his press duties on Friday following the passing of Italian icon Gianluca Vialli, with assistant boss Cristian Stellini instead paying tribute to the former Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea striker.

Vialli died at the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London at the age of 58 after battling pancreatic cancer for almost six years.

After a hugely successful career in Italy, Vialli moved to England in 1996 when he joined Chelsea on a free transfer and became the club's player-manager two years later. He led the club to League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup successes before winning the FA Cup in 2000.

Conte was a close friend of Vialli, who was part of Italy's coaching staff for their Euro 2020 triumph against England at Wembley, and he missed his usual press conference ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash with Portsmouth.

Instead, Stellini paid tribute to Vialli by saying: "Antonio in this moment is upset and sad. Every one of us, we are close to Vialli's family and all the people that loved Vialli. He is an important person in Italy and also in England so we are close together to stay with his family and to remember him in the right way.

"For us he was a great player but first of all he was a great man. He teach us a lot of things, not only when he played also when he speak with everyone. If you know him and people that know him can only speak well about this great guy. He was a great leader for Italy."

Stellini: Sarr has improved a lot in training

Pape Matar Sarr is coming into first team contention | Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

Pape Matar Sarr has attracted praise from section of Tottenham's support after some recent cameo appearances in midfield.

The 20-year-old returned to Metz on loan last season after joining Spurs in August 2021, but is now on the fringes of Antonio Conte's side and looks to be in genuine contention for more minutes.

Speaking of his development, what Spurs have been working on with Sarr and how good he can be, Stellini said: "He's a very young player. It's the first time he came to England. He has one year experience in Ligue 1 in France. About his skill, he can do everything because he's a great player with many possibilities. He's a midfielder who can play in many positions. He's a talented player.

"I spoke at my last press conference about the way you have to wait with young players. If you use young players at the wrong time, you can make a mistake. But with Pape, Antonio decided at this moment that Pape is ready and he improved a lot in training.

"We worked a lot on body position and many skills he has to improve. He showed a desire to improve and this is very important for us. If you work with a player and they show this desire it's easier. With Pape it is easy. He has to continue to work because we have a hierarchy, so he has to respect this and we have to respect the players. He has the possibility now and he has to show his desire and his quality."

Stellini also spoke about Harry Kane potentially getting a rest against Portsmouth and said it "could be an opportunity to give him a rest but we don't have many players and the choice is compulsory."

Source : 90min