There are times when rooting for a particular team in a particular sport becomes completely and totally irrelevant.
This is one of those times.
The shocking news that Fiorentina center-back and captain Davide Astori died in his sleep between Saturday night and Sunday morning has sent a pulse of grief through the world of calcio. The 31-year-old was found in his hotel room in Udine, where Fiorentina was preparing to take on Udinese, after he missed a team breakfast. He is survived by his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Respected throughout Italian soccer, Astori began his career at AC Milan’s youth academy and rose to prominence at Cagliari, where he played six seasons. After a year on loan at Roma he settled in Florence. He was in his third season with the Viola, and had inherited the captain’s armband after the departure of Gonzalo Rodriguez this past summer.
Astori had also been part of the Italian national team since 2011, making a total of 14 appearances and scoring a single goal, in the third-place match of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
His time with the national team made him teammates with many of Juve’s Italy internationals. Gianluigi Buffon posted a heartfelt reaction to the news on Instagram. After explaining how hesitant he normally is to publicly state his opinion of people to avoid them getting twisted by the media, he continued:
In your case, I feel the need to make an exception to the rule, because you have a young wife and family who are suffering, but above all a little girl, who deserves to know that her father was in every way A GOOD PERSON...a TRULY GOOD PERSON.
You were the best expression of an old-fashioned world, one that people have left behind, values like altruism, elegance, politeness, and respect toward others.
Compliments genuinely, you were one of the best sporting figures I ever came up against.
Your crazy Gigi
(h/t Football Italia for translation)
Former Juve captain and coach Antonio Conte, who coached Astori during his time with the national team, was visibly shaken when asked about the tragedy before Chelsea’s game against Manchester City today.
Federico Bernardeschi, teammates with Astori for two years at Fiorentina, also expressed his feelings in the wake of his death:
With eyes full of tears, a heart torn apart, I say Thank You my friend, for your humility, your kindness, your teachings, our friendship.
I’ll miss you and I will carry you always in my heart.
Look out for your family, your partner, and your little princess. I miss you.
The condolences of everyone at the BWRAO family are with Astori’s loved ones as they grieve his loss.