FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — 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 start of the funeral at Basilica di Santa Croce.
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 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 Gianluigi Buffon and other Bianconeri players and coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Players and officials from most Serie A teams were present, including former Roma captain Francesco Totti, and former Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura.
Thousands of people were also gathered outside Fiorentina’s stadium, where the funeral procession passed slowly 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 to play an Italian league match at Udinese in northeast Italy.
The defender, who also played 14 times for Italy, 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.
Astori started 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.
Fiorentina and Cagliari have retired Astori’s No. 13 shirt.
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