Fiorentina Coach Stefano Pioli paid a touching tribute to captain Davide Astori as the team prepares to return to the field against Benevento.
The game kicks off at the Stadio Franchi on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.
It is the first match back for the Viola since captain Astori was found dead in the team hotel last Sunday morning, aged only 31.
“If it’s alright with you, I’d like to avoid questions and just say my piece,” said Coach Pioli in today’s emotional Press conference.
“The first thought goes to Davide, who I was fortunate enough to know over the last few months. He was special as both a person and a captain.
“He always found the right way and time to say things. He was generous, positive, altruistic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend much time with him and I’ll miss him. I miss him every day I step on to that training ground.
“Our thoughts are with his family. I don’t know what to say to (partner and daughter) Francesca and Vittoria, other than we will always be there for them.”
Over 7,000 packed into the square outside the basilica for Astori’s funeral on Thursday.
“Our fans have a huge heart. I wanted to hug each and every one of them to console them and let them console us, so together we could find the strength to go on.
“We thank the whole football world, because such participation and solidarity is certainly down to Davide, but also means that there are still principles and values in a world that at times is described differently. Our club owners again showed their sensitivity and did everything possible to help the team.
“We are crying and suffering, because Davide was our reference point, but we know what to do in order to honour his memory.
“I usually like to motivate players by telling them: ‘Try to train and play as if it was the last time.’ I never needed to say that to Davide.
“He has left us so many values, that seed of passion, professionalism and sensitivity. Now it’s up to us to look after it and help that seed grow. All united, in memory of Davide.”
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