Thousands gather for the funeral of Italian footballer Davide Astori

The Fiorentina defender and captain died on Sunday aged 31

Davide Astori funeral Florence Fiorentina Italy
The coffin of Davide Astori is carried into the Santa Croce church in Florence, Italy
(Image credit: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images )

Thousands of fans descended on Florence today for the funeral of Italian footballer Davide Astori, who died on Sunday at the age of just 31.

The Fiorentina captain was found dead in his hotel room just hours before his side’s Serie A clash against Udinese. After news of his death broke out, all seven Serie A fixtures were postponed. Over the last few days, tributes have been paid by fellow players and fans.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Italian prosecutors suggest that his death was “due to a suspected cardiac arrest by natural causes”.

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Astori’s funeral was held at the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence and thousands of fans packed the streets and the city’s main square. Among the attendees were players and officials of Fiorentina as well as figures from clubs across Italy.

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As Astori’s coffin was driven past the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Fiorentina fans chanted “grande capitano” (great captain). Upon the hearse’s arrival at the Basilica di Santa Croce, fans raised their scarves and sang his name.

The Daily Mail reports that Venezia coach Filippo Inzaghi, Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti, former Roma star Francesco Totti and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah also attended the service. Totti and Salah were former teammates of Astori at Roma.

Juve dedicate win to Astori

Just a day after beating Tottenham in the Champions League at Wembley, a number of Juventus players and management were also at the service. Before last night’s game, Juventus and Spurs players and fans held an impeccable minute’s silence for Astori.

Juve and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, who was superb against Spurs, dedicated the victory to his international teammate. In an interview after the match, Chiellini said: “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.

“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 we go to give [our] last ‘ciao’ together with our teammates.

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“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.”

Juve and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also paid tribute to Astori, who won 14 caps for his national side. On Instagram, Buffon wrote: “You were the best expression of an old-fashioned world. One that people have left behind, and which was governed by values like altruism, elegance, politeness and respect... You were one of the best sporting figures I ever came up against.”

On Tuesday Fiorentina and Cagliari, one of the footballer’s former clubs, announced that they had retired his No.13 shirt in honour of his memory.

Astori, who started his career at AC Milan, is survived by his partner Francesca Fioretti and their two-year-old daughter.

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Gattuso: we must never forget him

When Milan play Arsenal in the Europa League at the San Siro tonight, a minute’s silence will be held.

Speaking ahead of the match, Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso said that Astori should never be forgotten.

“Astori was a great player on and off the pitch,” said Gattuso, who spent 13 years at Milan as a player. “He is a great example for all young men. I hope we never forget him. It’s important to remember men like him.

“I was at Milan when he was in the youth teams. Whenever I saw him in the gym, he would ask me if he could use it. The third time that happened I told him that it was his home – he didn’t need my permission.

Gattuso said he had last seen Astori on 30 December. “Before the match, he said he was proud and happy for me and my new adventure with Milan. He was always respectful and had a fantastic attitude. The team was very shaken on Sunday. There was none of the usual music in the dressing room.”

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