MILAN: Fiorentina captain and Italy international Davide Astori died of a sudden illness at the age of 31 yesterday, leaving Italian football in a state of shock.
Serie A postponed all of yesterday’s matches, including the derby between AC Milan and Inter Milan, as Italian and European clubs and dozens of players sent messages of condolence and expressed their disbelief.
“Fiorentina is deeply upset to have to announce that its captain Davide Astori has passed away, victim of a sudden illness,” said Fiorentina in a statement.
“Due to the terrible and delicate situation, and above all for the respect of his family, an appeal is made to everyone’s sensitivity.”
Defender Astori, in his 10th Serie A season, was found dead in his hotel room in Udine, where Fiorentina had been due to face Udinese at the Dacia Arena later yesterday.
The Fiorentina staff became worried when Astori, who was married with a daughter, did not join his team mates for breakfast at around 9.30 am local time, club spokesman Arturo Mastronardi told reporters outside the hotel.
Astori, who made 289 top flight appearances, joined Fiorentina on loan in August 2015 and the club signed him outright one year later.
He previously spent six seasons at Cagliari and one on loan at AS Roma.
He was raised at AC Milan but never played for their senior team.
He made 14 appearances for Italy between 2012 and 2017 and was in the squad at the Confederations Cup in 2013 where Italy finished third.
Udine state prosecutor Antonio Di Nicolo was quoted by the ANSA news agency saying it was believed “that the player died from a cardiac arrest, the result of natural causes”.
Former Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was one of the first to pay tribute to the player.
“It seems impossible. I’m in a state of disbelief and I cry with his family and all for Fiorentina. Goodbye captain,” he said on Twitter.
AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said football become meaningless in such circumstances. “I can’t think of the derby after a tragedy like that,” he said on Twitter.
The teams were already on the pitch and warming up for the lunchtime match between Genoa and Cagliari when news broke of Astori’s death.
Fans applauded when Astori’s picture was shown on the stadium screen and left in silence when it was announced that the game would not go ahead.