Sunday March 4 2018
Addio, Capitano Astori

When a defeat is described as a catastrophe, football can't find the words to describe Fiorentina captain Davide Astori's passing, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi.

It is part of the natural order to pay tribute to our football heroes when they leave us. It usually happens long after they have hung up their boots and provides a last nostalgic moment to reminisce about the great moments they gave us during their career. But when we lose them at just 31 years of age, the emotions are very different.

Un fulmine a ciel sereno - they say in Italy - a bolt from the blue, that’s how it felt to hear Fiorentina captain Davide Astori had died. One moment we were preparing for a tricky battle with Udinese for mid-table Serie A points, the next we are coming to terms with a genuine tragedy. All the daft little worries we tie up with football were suddenly shown up for the ridiculously miniscule matters that they actually are.

Sport insulates us against growing up and facing reality, that is one of its charms. We allow ourselves to use dramatic language - a disaster, a catastrophe, a calamity - to describe issues which actually don’t amount to much at all.

It is a harmless escapism, really, but it is all thrown into stark perspective when truly heartbreaking events unfold. Those of us who write about the game - and play along with its everyday hyperbole - find ourselves grasping at thin air for words which will do justice to the scale of what has happened.

Our loss is truly nothing compared with that of his partner, child, family, teammates and friends. They have lost the love of their life, their father, their relative, their colleague or close companion. He went away to play a game of football and did not return. Italian football has rightly been put on hold to pay its respects.

Astori came through the ranks at Milan and played for Cagliari and Roma before carving out a role as skipper at Fiorentina. At a club where the revolving transfer door has been pretty much going non-stop of late, he quickly became one of the most reliable and dependable fixtures in the starting line-up. The fact that Stefano Pioli - a defender of no little quality himself - saw fit to make him captain spoke volumes about his quiet leadership.

His was a reassuring name to see on the team-sheet for the Viola amid all the chopping and changing. Yes, there was the odd error, but those were more than outweighed by the games where he mopped up at the back and started another attack with surprising skill for a big man in defence. Sometimes he exaggerated in that, perhaps, but we loved him for it anyway.

Although not a stalwart of the national team, he was a loyal servant there as well. Willing to bide his time down the pecking order, he always gave his all whenever called upon. He will be missed as the Azzurri start the rebuilding process after failing to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.

It was his ability to sdramatizzare - to defuse the controversies so often whipped up by Italian football - which was most admirable. His post-match interviews always seemed to be accompanied by the same wry little smile whether a game had ended in triumph or disaster - both personally and for his team. It might seem like a small thing but, in the world of Serie A, it is quite a rare ability.

Gianluigi Buffon paid tribute to him as one of the game’s good guys, an example of altruism and respect for others. La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Luca Calamai, who has followed Fiorentina for a lifetime, described him as a sensitive footballer who was a true “fuoriclasse” as a man - ready to help those less fortunate than himself. These are the qualities that his loved ones, teammates and everyone who knew him will miss most.

Florence is a place close to its footballing champions, heroes and leaders. Although Davide Astori had only been there for less than three years, he hoped to play on for many more with the Viola and that kind of loyalty and love is deeply admired in a one-club city.

There are no words, really, that can do justice to what has happened, especially in the lexicon of those who write about sport. We are all the poorer for the passing of a fine footballer and admirable young man. Over time, perhaps, we might learn a lesson from him about keeping the game in its proper perspective in the grand scheme of things. But, for now, we must simply mourn the passing of Fiorentina’s captain, taken from us too soon.

Addio Capitano.

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Have your say...
As a Napoli fan I would like to at least put our club differences aside and genuinely hold hand in hand in memory of Davide and share sympathies to his family.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 4:34pm
What Dani alves said was ridiculous and I'm so happy balotelli hit back at him. No class Dani alves. We realise kids die everyday, many people do. But that specific incident we recognized and mourned for astori who was a footballer. We as a football community came together to send our condolences. What he said was not the time and place for that.

Riposa in Pace astori.
on the 6th March, 2018 at 8:57pm
That is a shame and a shock!
I saw him play for Italy against Uruguay in the Confeds cup. He did really well. Scored in that game too.
I suppose all u can do is pay your respects and try honor the man! There has been so many tributes to him from fans n pple in the know like Buffon that the guy really must have been a genuine lad. A real credit to the sport.
At least he's free from pain now and he will be able to see all the tributes from heaven!
on the 6th March, 2018 at 8:13am
Ciao Capitano
Rest in Peace
on the 6th March, 2018 at 5:55am
Won't sugar coat this. Didn't know him that well and can not possibly imagine the grief that his family feel now.

I'm only going to use this opportunity just to point out how much every one of your lives matter. First and foremost, take care of yourselves. Next, don't ever put others in a position where they have to sacrifice their own well being for any reason. The latter especially hurts these days, so I beg you all to keep it in mind and live for everyone's sake.

Peace, my friends.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 8:43pm
I was so so sad when I heard this, remember him coming up through Milan, RIP Davide, our thoughts are with you.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 2:50pm
I just read that a criminal investigation has started!?!? Oh LORD, please look after this man's young family, other loved ones and let Davide Astori REST IN PEACE.....
on the 5th March, 2018 at 12:52pm
A bolt out of the blue............
Totally unexpected in this days of modern technology and with the many advances in the medical field.

Was Astori sharing a room with a team mate?

Was the highly qualified Fiorentina medical staff on top of their game?

Did all the tests that players undergo reveal any clue to Astori's health problems?

Heartfelt condolences to the Captain's Family and all who were near to him.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 10:25am
@Ash , yes the Juventus official website honored Davide, just like all other teams around Europe and the world. Its sad to see that a tragic like this unite all the fans and people.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 8:22am
on the 5th March, 2018 at 7:13am
Today, Davide, you are our Capitano. No matter what team we support; from the small-amateur ones to those big clubs with Scudetto badges and European titles; all of them.

So long, capitano. Have a great journey home.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 4:58am
Rest In Peace, Davide.

- Juventus Ultra Indonesia.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 4:53am
I apologize, his daughter was 2 years old.
on the 5th March, 2018 at 4:48am
Unbelievable ... Sad ...

RIP Davide. There may be many top players but few as classy and gentlemanly ....
on the 5th March, 2018 at 12:36am
Thoughts for his family first and foremost. FI, if you know of any way, big or small, we fans can assist with anything beyond leaving condolences please let us know.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 10:41pm
I was asleep in the afternoon.I woke up and read this, couldn't believe for minutes.On behalf of all the Juve fans (I don't know if the club made an official tribute on their website) and Italian football fans...we will miss you Astori..never heard or read a bad thing about you...great player and an even better person...thank you so much for filling so many hearts with joy!Your li'l princess will know how great her father was..thank you! Rest in peace brother! Forza Astori!
on the 4th March, 2018 at 9:56pm
David Astori RIP you have conqtributed and give all your strength and love to one of the greatest sport in the world your present will be miss cos today is a tragedy for all sportmaship around the world that you are dead.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 8:59pm
Such a young guy, with a two week old baby girl. It's beyond heartbreaking. Riposa in pace Davide.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 8:35pm
RIP Astori.

A top man and captain of his club. It is a tragedy when someone goes so soon and especially in such circumstances. Very sad news for humanity, his family, Fiorentina, his friends and Serie A.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 7:25pm
It shows the stature of Davide Astori when the shock of his passing is not only felt in Italy but right around the world . So so sad but his character and name as one of the defensive greats will live on forever , in peoples hearts , memories and he will no doubt be immortalised in film and computer game .
on the 4th March, 2018 at 7:09pm
Davide Astori R.I.P God bless and Godspeed...One of the greats
on the 4th March, 2018 at 6:55pm
Very shocking and sad to state obvious. Was a very good player,called up to Azzurri,and was sure to get more future call ups. Great loss to Italian soccer and life and world soccer in general. scary when even such great in shape athletes fall to heart health.
Dark times...
First Italy not making Russia,now this.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 6:54pm
To think that Davide Astori is only three years older than me. It makes you remember to make the most of every opportunity - you don't know when it is gone. It is beyond sad - I hope his family - and especially his newborn are comforted at this terrible time. Rest in peace.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 6:43pm
Very sad news.
He always seemed like gentleman. Classy defender.

As a side note, couldn't FI find a more suitable photo than this one? I mean seriously?
on the 4th March, 2018 at 5:45pm
I don't think words can describe the feelings among the football fans. Walking just outside Artemio Franchi and seeing the other Viola fans says it all. With the rebooting the squad Fiorentina owners did, suddenly we lost someone who was not ready to go, not this way. RIP Davide.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 5:01pm
Rest in peace Astori
on the 4th March, 2018 at 4:05pm
i am still in shock i would have never expected something like this to happen to astori especially considering his age and physical state. My sympathy goes out to his family and friends at this time along with his past and former teammates coaches trainers at milan roma fiorentina calgari cremonese and the azzurri.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 3:20pm
Ciao grande Davide, grazie per tutti
on the 4th March, 2018 at 3:05pm
Rest In Paradise.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 3:01pm

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