Thousands of people gathered in one of Florence’s main squares for the funeral of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori on Thursday.
Astori died suddenly on Sunday morning from a suspected cardiac arrest in a hotel in Udine, where Fiorentina were based ahead of Sunday’s Serie A match against Udinese.
Fans of the Italian club turned out to honour Astori at the Basilica di Santa Croce on Thursday – applauding and shouting the defender’s name on the arrival of the hearse.
The square then fell silent for a few minutes, while many raised Fiorentina scarves and banners in the air as a mark of respect to the defender.
Earlier, the Fiorentina players were met by applause when they arrived on foot, led by midfielder Milan Badelj.
The Croatia international read out a message on behalf of the club during the service, which was broadcast to the crowd outside.
“You are the brother or the son that everyone would have wanted to have,” Badelj said. “Your parents didn’t make any mistake with you, not even the tiniest bit. You’re not like others, you are football, the real one, the pure one of children.
“Our thoughts go out to your mother and your father, to your brothers, to Francesca and to Princess Vicky. You were a man with a capital M and we will tell her. You are the light for all of us.”
Astori began his career in the Milan youth academy but never played a senior match for the Rossoneri, making his Serie A debut with Cagliari in 2008.
He spent six years at the Sardinian club before loan spells at Roma and Fiorentina, where he was signed on a permanent basis in 2016.
Fiorentina and Cagliari have both retired the number 13 shirt formerly worn by Astori in honour of the defender.