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Football greats join mourners on packed streets of Florence for Astori's funeral

DEVASTATED Fiorentina fans turned the sky purple and held high the club’s colours as Davide Astori’s coffin left his funeral – followed by team-mates, his grieving girlfriend and the bi…

DEVASTATED Fiorentina fans turned the sky purple and held high the club's colours as Davide Astori's coffin left his funeral – followed by team-mates, his grieving girlfriend and the biggest names in Italian football.

Teary mourners arrived at the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence to say goodbye and chant "grande capitano" in honour of their club skipper and Italy international, who died aged 31 on Sunday.


The coffin leaves Basilica di Santa Croce as Fiorentina fans let off violet flares and hold their club colours high in tribute to their captain

AP:Associated Press

Astori's coffin is taken towards the hearse after the funeral service as purple smoke fills the Piazza from fans' flares


The Fiorentina players arrived together in club suits looking visibly moved by the display of support from fans

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Astori's grieving girlfriend Francesca Fioretti, centre, arrives for the funeral with the support of close relatives


  • Astori travelled with Fiorentina squad on Saturday ahead of Serie A clash with Udinese
  • When club captain did not arrive at team breakfast at 9.30am, team-mates broke down hotel room door to find Astori dead
  • Astori died of natural causes, aged 31, in his sleep - with no warning signs
  • He leaves behind long-term girlfriend Francesca Fioretti and their two-year-old daughter Vittoria
  • Pictures showed Genoa players distraught as they were told news ahead of Serie A's 12.30 kick-off on Sunday
  • Serie A subsequently announced all league fixtures on Sunday were postponed
  • Italian football legends Francesco Totti and Gianluigi Buffon lead emotional tributes
  • Both Fiorentina and former club Cagliari retired their No13 shirts in Astori's honour
  • Astori was set to sign a new four-year contract with Fiorentina on Monday.

The coffin was taken away from the service to an atmospheric display of unity from Fiorentina fans, as they lit violet flares that filled the Piazza with purple smoke, waving banners, while some fans wept at the moving scene.

Pallbearers stood at the top of the steps with Astori's casket for mourners to chant and express their sorrow in the most dramatic of occasions, while some of the greatest footballers of all time fought back tears over the late defender.

The likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Francesco Totti could be seen trying to contain their emotions as they arrived.

His girlfriend Francesca Fioretti and two-year-old daughter Vittoria also arrived while the Fiorentina squad arrived on foot led by midfielder Milan Badelj.

Italian fans sing farewell to their captain Davide Astori in emotional tribute at funeral

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The incredible sight of several flares being let off in the spring sunshine in Astori's honour outside the Basilica di Santa Croce


A parade of colours fills the air around the Basilica di Santa Croce to pay tribute to the Fiorentina captain


The Piazzi di Santa Croce was filled with banners and supporters who wanted to pay tribute

The Croatia international read out a message on behalf of the club during the service, which was broadcast to the crowd outside.

Badelj said: "You are the brother or the son that everyone would have wanted to have.

"Your parents didn't make any mistake with you, not even the tiniest bit.

"You're not like others, you are football, the real one, the pure one of children.

Rimarrai sempre qui #capitano.
Tra la tua gente.#Firenze #Astori #DA13 #Fiorentina pic.twitter.com/eKDC5ITgnv

— Laura Hyeraci (@LauraHyeraci) March 8, 2018

Firenze ti abbraccia. Ciao Davide, nostro capitano. Per sempre uno di noi 💜 #Astori pic.twitter.com/RNRJtbOW35

— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) March 8, 2018

Firenze e la Fiorentina, una cosa sola 💜#Astori pic.twitter.com/NT7v0i1TnZ

— benedetto ferrara (@bennyferrara) March 8, 2018


Astori's funeral coffin leaves the church followed by banners from AFC Fiorentina, then by the crests of the Italian national team, Roma, Atalanta and Cagliari

"Our thoughts go out to your mother and your father, to your brothers, to Francesca and to Princess Vicky.

"You were a man with a capital M and we will tell her. You are the light for all of us."

The service lasted about two hours.

As soon as the coffin was brought back out, the people in the square again raised their scarves, sang the Fiorentina anthem and chanted Astori's name as well as "c'e solo un capitano," which means "there's only one captain."

Astori's mother blew a kiss to the crowd, while the people of Florence were also thanked by his brother Marco in his eulogy.

AP:Associated Press

AC Milan legend Marco van Basten chats to a man in traditional Florentine dress

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One fan finds the moving scene all too much as he weeps into his hand


Fiorentina fans gathered in their thousands sporting the club's purple scarves

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Astori's coffin is taken down to a white hearse after the funeral service

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Astori's coffin is loaded into the hearse by pallbearers as the air is turned purple outside his funeral service


Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini looked upset as he arrived with Juventus team-mates and his manager Massimiliano Allegri, left

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The square outside the Basilica was packed with mourners and Fiorentina supporters as Astori's coffin arrived for the funeral service

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Thousands of Fiorentina fans held their scarves aloft as the coffin arrived at Basilica di Santa Croce

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Pallbearers carry Astori's coffin into the church

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Youth team players and ballboys from Fiorentina held hands as Astori's coffin was taken into the Basilica

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The coffin was taken into the famous Neo-Gothic Basilica which contains the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo

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Smoke whirls around the square as the coffin leaves the Basilica


Italian football legend Gianluigi Buffon waved to the crowd but looked visibly moved as he attended the service


Buffon appears visibly moved as he walks into the funeral

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Former Roma team-mate of Astori and one-club man Francesco Totti arrives in Florence for the funeral


Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi and Alessandro Florenzi of Roma share a quiet word as they arrive at the funeral

Tottenham and Juventus fans hold minute silence at Wembley for Davide Astori

His coffin was adorned with an arrangement of lilies, while ballboys and youth players from the football club clapped the captain into the church and then held hands as he was taken away.

Fans draped flags and banners from windows overlooking the Basilica in the picturesque Tuscan city as some supporters held their heads in their hands.

FOOTBALL TRAGEDY Fiorentina captain and Italy star Davide Astori dies in his sleep aged 31

The service took place at the 13th century Basilica di Santa Croce, the same church where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried – and a fitting mark of respect for the popular player who represented his country 14 times.

The Piazza is usually a space where the traditional Tuscan sport of Florentine football is played – a bruising, violent mix of football and street fighting.

But the mood was much more sombre but passionate in grief as Italy's favourite game pulled out all the stops for tragic Astori, who joined the Viola in 2016.

Who was Davide Astori?

Davide Astori was born in Bergamo and played for local team Pontisola before joining AC Milan in 2006.

Two years later he moved to Cagliari – the club where he would make his name.

The centre-back would go on to make 174 appearances in Sardinia, and earn his first Italy cap against Ukraine in 2011.

A year later, out of loyalty to Cagliari, he turned down a bumper £12m move to Spartak Moscow.

Around the same time, he was scouted as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic by then-Manchester United boss David Moyes.

In 2014, Astori agreed a season-long loan to Roma for £1.8m and the Giallorossi paid a further £4.5m to make the deal permanent.

But a day before the transfer was set to go through, he instead agreed a new contract with Cagliari.

A loan to current club Fiorentina was then agreed with an obligation to buy.

Astori went on to make 78 appearances for the club before his untimely death in March, 2018.


The Piazza di Santa Croce looks stunning on a bright spring day for the sad occasion of Astori's funeral

AP:Associated Press

Juventus players including Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli arrived for the funeral less than 12 hours after their Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur

AP:Associated Press

One banner read 'forever our captain' as thousands of supporters stood near the church in the centre of Florence

AP:Associated Press

Thousands of Fiorentina fans gathered near the church holding their club scarves in their famous purple

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The crowd filled the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence

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Italy international Astori passed away at the age of just 31

Last night Giorgio Chiellini paid emotional tribute to Astori after Juventus' 4-3 aggregate Champions League win over Tottenham.

The Juventus captain said: "I cried many times.

"It was very difficult during the match because we have to think about our opponents, but he is always in our hearts.

"Tomorrow we go to give the last goodbye with our team-mates."


Former Juventus and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi attends Davide Astori's funeral


Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti walks towards the service


Inter Milan icon Javier Zanetti leads a column of mourners to the funeral


Fans hugged lamp posts to get a better view of the coffin arriving at the Basilica


There was not many a dry eye in the square after the moving funeral display


Thousands of fans displayed banners and scarves in the Viola colours of Fiorentina

AP:Associated Press

The Piazza di Santa Croce was packed with mourners who showed unity through club spirit


The incredible display of banners filled the Piazza as the funeral was held inside

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A vibrant flower display is put out for the ceremony with flowers from rival clubs

Piazza di Santa Croce piena per l'ultimo saluto a Davide Astori pic.twitter.com/O1fxH9vAxu

— Valerio Curcio (@ValerioCurcio) March 8, 2018

United in grief was former Fiorentina forward and club legend Gabriel Batistuta, who compared Astori to World Cup-winning club and international legend Giancarlo Antognoni.

The Argentina international said: "Fiorentina did well to entrust the armband to Davide because he was a real man first and foremost.

"I always thought the purple story had only one captain, my brother Giancarlo Antognoni.

"From now on we will have two. Forever."