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Fiorentina renames training ground for Davide Astori

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Fiorentina’s training ground has been renamed “Centro Sportivo Davide Astori” in honor of the club’s deceased captain.

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Davide Astori died in his team hotel room on March 4, shocking the Italian soccer world and triggering tributes around the world of soccer.

The respected Italian national team center back has had number retired by both Fiorentina and former club Cagliari.

Thousands packed a Florence piazza to salute the player en route to his funeral, and the club won its first match after his passing following vivid pre- and in-match tributes.

Fiorentina wins emotional first match since captain Astori’s death

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MILAN (AP) Fiorentina played its first match since the death of captain Davide Astori, beating last-place Benevento 1-0 on an emotional Sunday at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room last Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before his team was due to play an Italian league match at Udinese.

“Davide was, and will always remain, our light,” said new Fiorentina captain Milan Badelj. “No one will ever forget this match, it will be difficult … Florence has shown us its soul, we are all united after a tragedy like this.”

The Fiorentina players and staff all came out for the warmup wearing Astori No. 13 shirts and lined up next to a giant poster of his shirt and the words “captain forever.” They also held up a banner with “Ciao Davide” before kickoff.

There were plenty more No. 13 shirts and banners in the stands, including in the visitors’ section, with one huge banner reading: “There are men who never die. There are stories that are passed on through eternity. Bon voyage, Captain.”

Purple and white balloons were released after an impeccably observed minute’s silence as part of a series of deeply moving scenes, which had many in tears.

The players also stopped to remember Astori after 13 minutes of the game and there was special choreography in the stands, with the fans turning one end purple with “Davide 13” while everyone chanted Astori’s name — as they did for most of the match.

Vitor Hugo, the player who replaced Astori in the starting lineup, scored the only goal of the match in the 25th minute, leaping high to head in Riccardo Saponara’s corner for midtable Fiorentina.

Hugo celebrated by running to the bench with a T-shirt bearing Astori’s face, giving it to a member of staff and saluting it.

Both teams hit the post in the final minutes, through Massimo Coda and Badelj.

Many of the players collapsed to the ground after the final whistle, with tears streaming down their faces.

“I hope that, from above, Davide is proud of us, I am convinced he gave a hand to Vitor Hugo to jump so high, he is always on the pitch with us,” said Fiorentina midfielder Marco Benassi.

“It has been a difficult day, like the whole week, we have felt a great emptiness.”

Fiorentina-Benevento salutes Astori, releases thousands of balloons (video)

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Fans held “Grazie Capitano” signs, and the Fiorentina players donned No. 13 jerseys in warm-ups and held a “Ciao Davide” sign after the walkout on an incredibly emotional Sunday morning in Italy.

Fiorentina and Benevento honored Davide Astori, La Viola‘s 31-year-old captain who died last week, by pausing the Serie A match in the 13th minute at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

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Astori’s funeral march was attended by thousands on Thursday, with Juventus’ players flying from their UEFA Champions League match at Tottenham Hotspur in order to mourn and celebrate the life of the 14-times capped Italian national team defender.

The stadium also released thousands of violet and white balloons before kickoff.

Thousands come to pay respects to Astori

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A piazza in Florence was packed with purple shirts and purple smoke, but the people were not there for a celebration.

Thousands of people descended on Florence to pay their respects and say good bye to Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who tragically passed away early Sunday morning from what’s been reported as cardiac arrest.

In addition to the fans who filled the Piazza Santa Croce, Astori’s former teammates with Fiorentina, Cagliari and the Italian National Team arrived in the city this morning to say one last good bye as well as the funeral took place. Juventus’ players arrived in Florence straight off a plane from London, where they played a UEFA Champions League match the night before.

One of the eulogies given came from Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj, who called Astori the “best teammate you could dream of.”

“Davide, you are simple, direct, pragmatic,” Badelj said. “With your deep gaze you can get in to someone’s eyes and stay there, you’re not like all the others. You managed to talk to us all, to show us the way. You always talked with your heart, you motivated the youngest and the older ones with the gift of the universal language of the heart, a gift that very few have.

“You are the brother or the son that everyone would want to have. Your parents got nothing wrong with you, not one comma.

“You’re the best teammate a lad could dream of when starting out in this beautiful game. How can we forget your laughs, your sense of humor? “You are not like the others, you are football – the real thing, the pure football of children.

Below are some photos and video of the scene in Florence. Ciao, Davide.

Davide Astori’s shirt retired by former clubs

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Tributes continue to pour in for Davide Astori after his tragic death at the weekend.

The 31-year-old captain of Fiorentina was found dead in the team hotel on Sunday morning ahead of their Serie A game against Udinese, with the Italian international defender reported to have suffered a cardiac arrest in his sleep.

On Tuesday it was announced by both Cagliari and Fiorentina that the No.13 jersey he wore will be retired as a mark of respect.

Astori played 178 times for Cagliari and made 109 appearances for Fiorentina, while he also played 14 times for Italy over the past six years.

All games in Italy’s top-flight were canceled on Sunday after the tragic news arrived, while Astori’s body will arrive in Florence on Wednesday at the Italian national team training center for people to pay their respects to him.

Ahead of all UEFA Champions League and Europa League games this week there will be a minute’s silence to honor Astori, while Italian soccer is in mourning following the loss of an instrumental figure for Fiorentina who was also a mainstay in the Italian national team squads.