Saturday 18 August 2018

Players and fans unite to pay emotional farewell to Fiorentina captain Davide Astori

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Davide Astori after the funeral service
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Davide Astori after the funeral service
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Federico Bernardeschi of Juventus and Alessandro Florenzi of AS Roma arrive before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Fiorentina players arrive before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Diego Della Valle and former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi arrive before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 President of the Italian National Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Fiorentina players arrive before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Venezia coach Filippo Inzaghi arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Former Inter Milan player Javier Zanetti arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Former Inter Milan player Javier Zanetti arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon arrives for the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Italian soccer players association president Damiano Tommasi arrives for the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Mario Balotelli of Nice arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Mario Balotelli of Nice arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
The coffin is carried into the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Massimiliano Allegri arrives before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Massimiliano Allegri and Giorgio Chiellini arrive before the funeral REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Fans expose banners and flags during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri arrives for the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Fans with Fiorentina scarves stand outside the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A moment of the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
The coffin is carried into the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
The coffin is carried into the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Pallbearers carry the coffin of Davide Astori after the funeral service REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Pallbearers carry the coffin of Davide Astori after the funeral service REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Pallbearers carry the casket of Davide Astori after the funeral service REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Soccer Football - Davide Astori Funeral - Santa Croce, Florence, Italy - March 8, 2018 Pallbearers carry the coffin of Davide Astori after the funeral service REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
The coffin leaves the church at the end of the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Fiorentina fans wait outside the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 8, 2018. The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Thousands of Fiorentina fans have gathered for the funeral of former captain Davide Astori.

A number of famous faces from the world of Italian football were also on hand to pay their respects to the defender.

The 31-year-old was found dead in his hotel room in Udine on Sunday, hours before Fiorentina were due to face Udinese in a Serie A fixture.

Italian prosecutors have suggested his death was due to a suspected cardiac arrest by natural causes.

All of Sunday's seven Serie A games were postponed as a result and tributes from across the footballing world poured in for the defender, who won 14 caps for Italy.

Fiorentina fans held up club scarves as Astori's body arrived at the Basilica di Santa Croce.

Fans fell silent upon the arrival of Astori's hearse before launching in chants of 'grande capitano', which translates as 'great captain'.

Former Argentina right-back Javier Zanetti led a delegation of Inter Milan players including manager Luciano Spalletti, while former Azzurri striker and current Venice manager Filippo Inzaghi was also in attendance.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined mourners less than 24 hours after captaining his side to victory over Tottenham in the Champions League.

"You were the best expression of an old-fashioned world," the goalkeeper said in an Instagram post paying tribute to the 31-year-old, "one that people have left behind, and which was governed by values like altruism, elegance, politeness and respect toward others.

"Genuine compliments, you were one of the best sporting figures I ever came up against."

Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini paid emotional tribute to his former international teammate in an articulate post-match interview.

"We dedicate this win to him but not only this match. I cry many times, I always believe in him because he was a fantastic player," said Chiellini.

"It's very difficult during the match because we have to think of the game and our opponents. It is not easy but he’s always in our heart. And tomorrow we go to give last 'ciao' together with our team-mates.

"It's difficult but we have to continue our lives. I think for us he was important for our national team, he always brought positive emotion and always smiled. We would like to continue to smile in our heart."

Astori is survived by his partner, Francesca Fioretti, and their two-year-old daughter.

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