A Shocked Serie A Mourns The Death Of Fiorentina's Captain

The unexpected and tragic death of Fiorentina defender Davide Astori dramatically changed the Serie A weekend.

The death of Davide Astori was announced on the morning of March 4. The club captain of Fiorentina, he had been expecting to take part in a run-of-the-mill away game against Udinese. Instead, every match in Serie A was postponed in the wake of the news. 

The night before, Astori had been playing videogames with the Fiorentina goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello. The next day, as the players sat down to breakfast, his absence was noted. According to coaches, the center back was typically one of the first to rise on a match day. 

But he was nowhere to be found. On checking his room, club officials found the player unresponsive. His death was announced shortly after.

Davide Astori

Davide Astori, the Fiorentina captain who also appeared for the Italian national team, passed away on Sunday at the age of 31. Photo: @FootyAccums | Twitter

In the day’s early fixture, Cagliari against Genoa, the players learned of the news while preparing for their game. Astori had spent six years at Cagliari. Mattia Perin, with whom Astori played for the national team, was visibly shaken. Numerous players were weeping; the shock spread through the stadium quickly.

The young Cagliari manager, Diego Lopez, played with Astori while the two were at the Sardinian club. Lopez sought help from the club doctor, the news affecting him to the point of illness. Across the country, fans of other teams were preparing banners mourning the loss. In Florence, 2,000 fans gathered to mourn.

During his playing career, Astori turned out for the six clubs, including spells at Milan and Roma. Such is the nature of Italian football, where players move so frequently within the league, there were few matches scheduled which did not feature at least one player who had played either with or against Astori.

As the news spread around the world, all Serie A and Serie B matches were postponed. In Barcelona, they held a minute’s silence. A similar observance is already planned for Italy’s friendly match against England at the end of March. 

Players all around the world released statements of shock and despair. Ricardo Saponara, Astori’s Fiorentina teammate, asked with whom he was going to watch films, visit restaurants and play games. They still needed to finish watching La La Land. 

Buffon, a fellow national team player, wrote “eri l'espressione migliore di un mondo antico,” which means “(Astori was) the best expression of an old world.” A great and perfect person. 

Ciao caro Asto, difficilmente ho espresso pubblicamente un pensiero riguardo una persona, perché ho sempre lasciato che la bellezza e l'unicità di rapporti, di reciproca stima e affetto, non venissero strumentalizzati o gettati in pasto a chi non ha la delicatezza per rispettare certi legami. Nel tuo caso, sento di fare un'eccezione alla mia regola, perché hai una moglie giovane e dei familiari che staranno soffrendo,ma soprattutto la tua piccola bimba, merita di sapere che il suo papà era a tutti gli effetti una PERSONA PERBENE.....una GRANDE PERSONA PERBENE....eri l'espressione migliore di un mondo antico, superato, nel quale valori come l'altruismo, l'eleganza, l'educazione e il rispetto verso il prossimo, la facevano da padroni. Complimenti davvero, sei stata una delle migliori figure sportive nella quale mi sono imbattuto. R.I.P. Il tuo folle Gigi.

A post shared by Gianluigi Buffon (@gianluigibuffon) on

The messages and eulogies revealed a player held in universal acclaim. Not just well liked, but loved and appreciated by everyone he knew. 

The outpourings of grief and social media can attest to the high regard in which he was held by teammates, opponents, coaches and everyone else in the wider footballing community. 

The cause of death has yet to be confirmed, though it is suspected to have been a cardiac arrest. Italian football, for all its faults, prides itself on the close monitoring of players’ health, especially since the death of Perugia’s Renato Curi in 1977. 

In the time since, all football players at the highest level have their fitness and health monitored with the utmost scrupulousness. That such a sudden, unexpected attack should occur is a shock.

In 2012, when Piermario Morosini lost his life on the pitch, the monitoring became even stricter. On that occasion, Astori himself released a message of grief and a call for the games to be postponed. 

Davide Astori was 31. A husband and a father to a 2-year old daughter, his death shocked the world. 

There are few anecdotes or memories that can do justice to the dead. To reduce his career to a collection of performances on the pitch would be reductive but not wrong. 

Certain headers, goals or tackles, the tools of the trade for any footballer, can elicit moments of pure, raw emotion. These can linger long after other memories fade.  

Football is, on the surface, pitifully unimportant. It means nothing in a world of death and war and pestilence and famine. Compared to almost everything else, football does not matter.

But it is not insignificant. 

The emotion stirred by the death of Davide Astori is a reminder of the true value of football. A reminder of its ability to fix in the mind a moment of pure elation or despondence. A goal or a miss; a victory or a loss. 

These acts and the memories of these acts become valuable because we give them value. They pass beyond the moment of memory into a visceral, eternal form of remembrance. They are priceless.

In that respect, Astori’s memory will live on for many, many years. His actions are tied to moments of the purest emotion, which is perhaps why his passing had such a notable impact on the footballing world. 

Players, fans, reporters, coaches, managers, owners and everyone involved in every aspect of the footballing world will remember in their own way. 

The scenes of mourning across the football world, across continents and countries, are indicative of how powerful sport can be, an emotional leveler, in which a tragedy can remind every single person of the essential unimportance and the wonderful vitality of football. 

The death of Davide Astori is a tragedy. There is no possible way in which we can truly know the grief and heartache being felt by his wife, his child, his friends and his family. If it is any consolation at all, they will not be alone. 

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