Davide Astori, the Italian professional footballer and Fiorentina captain who died from a heart attack, has been laid to rest in a crowded ceremony swarmed by soccer fans, friends and well-wishers.
After the emotional scenes at the central defender’s funeral in Florence, hundreds of mourners attended the burial in his hometown.
Media reports, however, confirm that Astori’s burial at a cemetery located in San Pellegrino Terme, northern Italy, was delayed for two hours to allow his partner, Francesca Fioretti, to be present. The couple shared a 2-year-old daughter before his death.
A good number of prominent Italian footballers were also on hand to pay their respects to the 31-year-old.
Astori was found dead in his hotel room in Udine on Sunday, hours before Fiorentina were due to face Udinese in a Serie A fixture, and Italian prosecutors have suggested his death was due to a suspected cardiac arrest by natural causes.
All matches scheduled for last Sunday, a total of seven Serie A games, were postponed as a result and tributes from across the footballing world in memory of the football star who 14 caps for Italy.
As his body arrived at the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence, fans of Fiorentina held up club scarves for a moment of silence before literally going crazy with chants: ‘grande capitano,’ a translation for ‘great captain.’
Former Argentina right-back Javier Zanetti led a delegation of Inter Milan players, including manager Luciano Spalletti and former AS Roma captain Francesco Totti. Also, former Azzurri striker and current Venice manager Filippo Inzaghi attended the burial.
Image shows a group of Fiorentina teammates at the burial ceremony
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined mourners to honor the dead 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 shared in his Instagram post, “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,” he Buffon added.
Giorgio Chiellini, who was seen crying bitterly at the ceremony, 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 the Italian defender.
“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.”
— ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) March 6, 2018