Fiorentina captain Astori, 31, passes away

Florence (Italy), March 4: ACF Fiorentina captain and Italian international Davide Astori, 31, has died due to a sudden illness, the club announced on Sunday, sending the Italian football community into mourning.

“Fiorentina are profoundly shaken and forced to announce that club captain Davide Astori has died, caught by a sudden illness,” Fiorentina said in a statement.

According to media reports, Astori, who played 14 times for Italy as a defender, died in his sleep in his team’s hotel in the northern Italian city of Udine on Sunday ahead of their Serie A clash against Udinese away.

“For the terrible and delicate situation, and above all for the respect of his family, appeal is made to everyone’s sensibility,” Fiorentina said.

As a sign of respect, all Serie A matches scheduled for Sunday were suspended, Serie A and the Italian football federation FIGC announced.

“All the fixtures scheduled for today are postponed as a sign of mourning. Farwell Astori,” Serie A tweeted.

Astori joined the AC Milan youth academy and played for Cagliari and Roma before moving on loan to Fiorentina in 2015 and signing a long-term contract in 2016.

Since joining Fiorentina, he played 106 matches and became the leading figure in the Italian club.

FIFA and UEFA, along with several footballing personalities also offered their condolences on Astori’s death.

“Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of @acffiorentina captain and Italian international Davide Astori, who passed away suddenly last night,” UEFA tweeted.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Davide Astori who has passed away at the age of 31,” FIFA tweeted.

FIGC said: “The FIGC’s thoughts are with the directors, coaches and staff who knew and respected Davide throughout Italian football, while we also offer our most profound condolences to the Astori family.”

“A man who loved football and who grew up as a footballer with us. #ACMilan are shocked by the passing of Davide #Astori. It is with great sadness that we offer our deepest condolences to his family and closed ones and to ACF #Fiorentina,” AC Milan said.

Astori’s national team captain Gianluigi Buffon wrote an emotional letter in his tribute to his former teammate. “I have hardly publicly expressed a thought about a person, because I have always let the beauty and uniqueness of relationships, mutual esteem and affection, not be exploited or disposed off to those who do not have the delicacy to respect certain links. In your case, I feel like I’m making an exception to my rule, because you have a young wife and family members who will be suffering, but especially your little girl, she deserves to know that her dad was a decent person. A great decent person…. you were the best expression of an ancient, outdated world, in which values such as altruism, elegance, education, and respect for the next, did it as masters. Congratulations really, you were one of the best sports figures I came across,” the 40-year-old legendary goalkeeper posted on Facebook.

All the European clubs, including the likes of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City, Schalke, extended their condolences to Astori’s family, friends and teammates.

“Shocked, incredulous and speechless for this tragedy. I’m close to the family and friends of Davide Astori,” Francesco Totti, who captained Astori at AS Roma, said.

Lazio and Italy striker Ciro Immobile said: “I have no words Davide only deep pain, you were a good person and you made you love everyone! I send you a hug wherever you are resting in peace champion. # davideastori#RiPAstori

Juventus chief coach Massimiliano Allegri, who coached Astori at Cagliari wrote on Twitter: “Moments, words, images and many memories: the moment is tremendous for those who have got to know Davide. It was a privilege to train him, he will be missed. A hug especially to the family.”