Italian football is mourning the loss of football star David Astori who was found dead in his room at the Best Western Hotel Là di Moret in Udine, just hours before the scheduled Sunday kick-off of a ‘Serie A’ fixture between his club Florentina and Udinese.
According to Udine prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo, the 31-year-old-Fiorentina captain died as a result of a “cardio-circulatory arrest due to natural causes.” He said that Astori had not shown any “warning signs” of his illness.
“Fiorentina are profoundly shaken and forced to announce that their captain Davide Astori has died,” the club said in a statement.
“For this terrible and delicate situation, and above all out of respect for his family, we appeal to the sensitivity of the media,” added the statement.
When a usually punctual Astori did not arrive for the team breakfast at 9:30 am, his concerned teammates went looking for him; they had to break down his hotel room door to find their captain dead.
“The lad did not turn up to the team breakfast at 9.30am and he was usually the first to arrive,” Club spokesman Arturo Mastronardi said.
“So they went to check on him. Davide was sleeping in a room on his own. The body has been taken for an autopsy, which I think will be conducted today,” added the spokesman.
As a mark of respect for the national hero, Serie A called-off all of the seven fixtures scheduled for the day.
Italian club AC Milan said in a tweet that they were “shocked” to learn about Astori’s death and described him as “a man who loved football and who grew up as footballer with us.”
“It is with great sadness that we offer our deepest condolences to his family and closed ones and to ACF Fiorentina,” read the tweet.
A man who loved football and who grew up as footballer with us. #ACMilan are shocked by the passing of Davide #Astori. It is with great sadness that we offer our deepest condolences to his family and closed ones and to ACF Fiorentina
— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 4, 2018
A.S. Roma also condoled the center-back’s death, saying that the club was “devastated” by the news of his death.
“The thoughts of everyone at AS Roma are with the player’s family, friends, and teammates at this terrible and tragic time,” said the A.S. Roma tweet.
The club is devastated to learn of the death of Davide Astori. The thoughts of everyone at AS Roma are with the player's family, friends and teammates at this terrible and tragic time. pic.twitter.com/vDlL4LIkJr
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 4, 2018
The Italian international is survived by girlfriend of long, Francesca Fioretti, and their two-year-old daughter Vittoria.
Born in Bergamo on January 7, 1987, Davide Astori started his footballing career with local club Pontisola, crossing over to AC Milan back in 2006, a stint which included loan spells with Pizzighettone and Cremonese.
The start of the 2008-09 season saw him change yet another club, this time moving over to Seria A club Cagliari, where he would gain the recognition he truly deserved.
The center-back defender made a total of 345 career appearances for various clubs, representing Cagliari on 174 occasions as well as appearing as a Calgiari-loaned player for Roma (24 appearances) and Fiorentina (33 appearances).
Astori’s sense of loyalty was such that, in 2012, he declined a €15 million ($18.4 million) offer to move to Spartak Moscow, saying that he chose to stay on with Cagliari to achieve unmet goals with the club.
He made 25 and 31 loan-appearances for Pizzighettone and Cremonese, respectively, during his contract with AC Milan.
Having played for Fiorentina as a loan-player in the past on 33 instances, as mentioned before, Astori joined the club in 2016; and before he passed away on Sunday (March 4), he had made 58 appearances on behalf of the club, as a directly contracted player.
Astori’s international career actually began in 2004 when he represented the national under-18 team, going on to play 4 games for the junior team.
It was a long wait for the defender before he got his first shot at the senior national level, in 2010, when he was included in the team for a friendly against Côte d’Ivoire.
But as fate would have it, it turned out to be an anti-climax for Astori as his skills were left un-utilized in the game by coach Cesare Prandelli.
It was on March 29, 2011, that he represented Italy in a real sense, coming on as substitute, seventeen minutes into a friendly against Ukraine, in Kiev, which Italy won 2-0.
His international career includes 14 outings on behalf of his country with one goal under his belt.
WATCH: Antonio Conte's touching tribute to Fiorentina captain, Davide Astori, who he managed when with the national team. 😪👏🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/UhYTqrV0UB
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 4, 2018
RIP Davide Astori!