Thousands gather for funeral of Fiorentina captain Astori


Thousands of people gathered in one of Florence's main squares for the funeral of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori on Thursday.

Some arrived at 7 a.m., three hours before the funeral at Basilica di Santa Croce was to start.

The arrival of the hearse carrying Astori's body was greeted by loud applause and shouts of his name and "grande capitano" (great captain).

The square then fell silent for a few minutes, while many raised Fiorentina scarves and banners in the air.

The Fiorentina players were also met by applause when they arrived on foot, led by midfielder Milan Badelj.

Many other dignitaries and former teammates were also present, including Giuseppe Rossi, who currently plays for Genoa, and Borja Valero and Matias Vecino, who play for Inter Milan.

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, who played with Astori for Italy, was in tears as he arrived with Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Thousands of people were also gathered outside Fiorentina's stadium, where the funeral procession passed slowly by on its way to the church.

The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before Fiorentina was set to play an Italian league match at Udinese in northeast Italy.

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.

Astori leaves behind his partner, Francesca Fioretti, and their 2-year-old daughter.

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