The 54-year-old played for Chelsea from 1996 to 1999 (image courtesy Getty)

Former Chelsea striker and manager Gianluca Vialli has revealed how he quietly overcame a battle with cancer.

Speaking with Corriere della Sera, the 54-year-old Chelsea legend, who also played for Italian giants Juventus, said that he prevented his family from knowing about it.

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He said: “And then I considered it simply a phase of my life that had to be lived with courage and from which to learn something. I knew it was hard and hard to have to tell others, to my family.

“You would never want to hurt the people who love you: my parents, my sister and brothers, my wife Cathryn, our little girls Olivia and Sofia. And it takes you as a sense of shame, as if what happened to you was your fault.

“I walked around with a sweater under my shirt, because the others did not notice anything, to be still the Vialli they knew.”