Astori's death shocks football world
UDINE, Italy (AP):
Fiorentina captain Davide Astori was found dead in his hotel room yesterday at the age of 31 after a suspected cardiac arrest before an Italian league match.
The defender, who also played 14 times for Italy's national team, was discovered by Fiorentina staff when he failed to show up for breakfast at the hotel in Udine. Fiorentina's game at Udinese in northeast Italy was called off, along with all fixtures in the country's top two divisions.
Astori's body was taken to the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital for an autopsy.
"The belief is that the player died of a cardiac arrest by natural causes," Udine prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo said. "It is strange that such a thing should happen to a professional who is so closely monitored without there being any warning signs."
Fiorentina said Astori, who had played for the club since 2015, was "hit by a sudden illness." Club President Andrea Della Valle said Astori had been due to sign a new contract today and that it would have tied him to the club "for life."
Astori leaves behind his wife, Francesca Fioretti, and their two-year-old daughter.
His wife was informed of the news by Fiorentina directors, who visited her personally, while Astori's parents, who live in Bergamo, were told on the telephone.
In Florence, fans attached scarves, flowers and messages to the gates of the team's stadium, while banners paying tribute to him were put up outside several other stadiums.
There was an outpouring of shock reaction across the football world. The English Football Association said it plans to honour Astori when it hosts Italy at Wembley on March 27 in a friendly.
MATCHES CALLED OFF
Genoa and Cagliari were preparing to play in Serie A's early game when the players were told of Astori's death. Several - many of whom had played with Astori for Italy - walked off in tears. When the match was officially called off, a picture of Astori was shown on the giant screen, leading to applause throughout the stadium.
Cagliari coach Diego LÛpez, who played and coached Astori at the Sardinian club, had to receive medical treatment after finding out the news, as did Carlos S·nchez, who is on loan from Fiorentina at Espanyol.
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon, a former Italy goalkeeper, posted a picture of himself with Astori on Instagram.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, who coached Italy from 2014 to 2016, struggled to hold back the tears as he reacted to the death before a Premier League game at Manchester City. He wore a black armband during the match in tribute.
Astori started out in the Milan youth academy but never played a senior match for the Rossoneri, making his Serie A debut with Cagliari in 2008.
He spent six years at the Sardinian club before loan spells at Roma and Fiorentina, where he was signed on a permanent basis in 2016.