Thousands Gather In Florence For Astori's Funeral

Mario Balotelli among stars at funeral of tragic Italy star Davide Astori

Milan players had to take the field today, so could not attend Fiorentina captain Astori's funeral in Florence, but Bonucci fought back tears as he paid tribute.

UEFA made the decision Monday with Italy still reeling in shock following the sudden death of the 31-year-old defender who played for his country 14 times.

The Fiorentina captain was found dead in his hotel room at the weekend, just hours before his side's game against Udinese, which was subsequently postponed along with every other Serie A match that day. It is believed that he died of cardiac arrest, according to the Udine prosecutor's office. He is survived by his partner, Francesca Fioretti, and their two-year-old daughter.

Cagliari coach Diego Lopez, who played and coached Astori at the Sardinian club, had to receive medical treatment after finding out the news, as did Carlos Sanchez, who is on loan from Fiorentina at Espanyol.

"I cried many times".

Gabriele Maltinti  GettyImages
Gabriele Maltinti GettyImages

Those who wear black and white would normally be greeted with vitriol as Fiorentina's most hated rivals, but today those differences were put aside as the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli were applauded by the Viola supporters as they arrived. On Instagram, Buffon wrote: "You were the best expression of an old-fashioned world". When the bad news arrived of the death of our captain, I had the same reaction: I was in shock, speechless, for a death without an answer. "He was a great player, especially a fantastic guy".

These comments riled Balotelli, who played alongside Astori on the worldwide stage with Italy, as he took to a live stream on Instagram to air his thoughts.

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

"I was at Milan when he was in the youth teams".

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