Thousands turned out in one of Florence’s main squares on Thursday to farewell Fiorentina captain Davide Astori.
Holding aloft scarves and banners amidst a haze of purple smoke, Fiorentina fans greeted the hearse carrying the 31-year-old’s body with a tsunami of noise, shouting Astori’s name and ‘grande capitano’ – grand captain in Italian.
Some of Italian football’s biggest names turned out to farewell Astori, with the Fiorentina team joined by the likes of Genoa’s Giuseppe Rossi, and a delegation of Juventus players and coaches including Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon, and Massimillano Allegri.
The service included a moving speech from Croatian international and Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj, who called Astori ‘the brother or son that everyone would have wanted to have’ and ‘the light for all of us’.
Astori was honoured in European and Italian fixtures throughout the past week, with a minute’s silence held in various Champions and Europa League matches – including an impeccably observed minute at Wembley Stadium prior to Juventus’ defeat of Tottenham on Wednesday morning, Australian time.
Fiorentina and Caligari, one of the defender’s former clubs, have announced they will each retire the number 13, Astori’s playing number, in his honour.
The tributes continued yesterday as Fiorentina returned to the pitch for the first time against Benevento at Stadio Artemio Franchi, in Florence.
The club displayed a banner in the centre circle prior to the game which read ‘Captain Forever’, and there was an impeccably held minute’s silence for Astori prior to kick-off.
An eruption of applause in the 13th minute brought the game to a halt however, as the stadium rose and lifted a tifo, reading ‘Davide 13’, in his honour.
Fiorentina went on to win 1-0, thanks to a 25th minute goal from Vitor Hugo.