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Davide Astori tragedy: Fiorentina's beloved captain gone, but not forgotten

02:59 GMT+3 04/03/2019
Davide Astori tribute 2018
One year on from his tragic death, Goal looks at the ways that the defender has been honoured by the club's players, fans and rivals

  • Davide Astori

    'Il Muro di Astori'

    'Astori's wall' – one of the most poignant symbols of the untimely passing of one of Italian football's most beloved characters. It was the part of the gate at the Stadio Artemio Franchi at which thousands of fans, team-mates and opponents came to lay flowers, shirts, scarves, photos, banners and notes in the hours, days and months after Davide Astori's death on March 4, 2018. The touching, makeshift shrine has since been moved to the Centro Sportivo which now also bears the defender's name.
  • Davide Astori Funeral

    Florence in mourning

    Astori's death left an entire city in a state of shock. In announcing a day of mourning in Florence, mayor Dario Nardella stated:

    "The role of captain of the city's team; the deep bond that he had built with not only the fans but also the entire community thanks also to his human qualities and civic values; the exemplary conduct of a professional attached to the most important ideals of the Viola shirt; the national team and the world of sport in general which he represented; and, not least, the young age at which he was take so tragically and suddenly – all of these things are at the heart of the collective sense of loss felt in all of Florence."

  • Chapecoense fans Arena Conda 30112016

    Chapecoense's condolences

    There were messages of support for Astori's family, the club he represented and those who had supported of him. Unsurprisingly, Chapecoense, the club devastated by the plane crash that claimed 77 lives on November 28, 2016, were among the first to send their condolences.

    "The Chapecoense team is profoundly affected by the death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. Our deepest sympathies go to the Astori family, his team-mates and friends and we share their pain."

  • Cyril Thereau, Fiorentina, Udinese, Serie A, 15102017

    Saponara's touching tribute

    Fiorentina's players were both stunned and traumatised by the sudden loss of their team-mate. One by one, they paid tribute to their captain but it was Riccardo Saponara who perhaps best conveyed their sense of a loss with an open letter to Astori that was as beautiful as it was heart-breaking.

    "O captain, my captain. Why did you not come down to have breakfast with us all? Why did you not pick up your shoes from outside of Marco [Sportiello]'s room and then drink your orange juice, as usual?

    "Now they'll tell us that life goes on, that we must look forward and pick ourselves up, but what will your absence feel like? Who will arrive every morning in the cafeteria, warming up everyone with his smile?

    "Who will ask us about what we did the previous night and have a laugh about it? Who will nurture the youngsters and give a sense of responsibility to the veterans? Who will form the circle to work on our 'two-touch play' and who will demolish Marco on the PlayStation?

    "With whom will we debate Masterchef, Florence's restaurants, TV series or games played? Who will I lean on at lunch after a tiring training session? Come on, come back! You still need to finish watching LaLaLand, so you can analyse it like you did with all new movies.

    "Come back to Florence, they're waiting for you to renew your contract and acknowledge all the good and the positivity that you bring to us on a daily basis. Get out of that damn room! We'll be waiting for you tomorrow at training

    "In life, there are people you've known forever but have never bonded with, and then there are the 'Davides', who warm to you immediately with a simple 'Welcome to Florence, Ricky'.

    "Wherever you are now, keep on defending our goal and enlighten the right path for us from the backline.

    "Oh captain, my captain. Forever, my captain."

  • Davide Astori tribute Roma Torino 09032018

    'Ciao, Davide'

    It wasn't just Astori's Fiorentina's team-mates who were devastated by his passing. All of those who had ever played alongside or against him were deeply affected.

    So it came to pass that in the first Serie A game after his death, Roma against Torino at the Stadio Olimpico on March 9, the two teams joined in one big embrace, with several players reduced to tears as they paused to pay their respects.

    That weekend, every single player in Italy's top flight wore a jersey with the inscription, "Ciao, Davide".

  • Davide Astori Funeral

    The final goodbye

    March 8, 2018 is a day that the city of Florence will never forget. Thousands of people descended upon Basilica di Santa Croce to say goodbye to their beloved captain.

    Politicians, athletes from various other sports, great champions from the past and delegations from every other Serie A club came to pay their respects.

    Juventus had only just returned from an away game in London but Massimiliano Allegri, Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Federico Benardeschi all rushed to the Florence for Astori's funeral and, despite being players from Fiorentina's most hated rivals, were greeted with a round of applause from the throngs of people assembled outside the Basilica.

    The universal affection for Astori transcended all sporting divides.

  • Milan Badelj Atalanta Fiorentina Serie A

    Badelj bids farewell

    For those that attended the funeral, their abiding memory will forever be the poignant tribute made by Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj, who had inherited the captain's armband from Astori.

    "Dear, Davide,

    "I take the word of... Your name in Hebrew means 'loved', and to see all of those that are here today to show you affection, I believe that this really was your name.

    "Davide, with your deep look, you managed to get inside people and stay there. You are not like all the others. You are the one that without knowing the language well, still managed to speak to all of us, speaking from the heart and keeping us united. You have the gift of the universal language of the heart.

    "Your mother, your father, they must know that they didn't make any mistakes with you. You are exactly the son and brother that everyone would want to have.

    "You are the best team-mate. that a guy could ever dream of. To have you at our side made us feel safe, to think 'it's okay, Davide's here'. We cannot forget your laugh, your world of jokes with everyone.

    "You, 'world famous designer and part-time footballer', as you used to love to describe yourself. You are football, though, that pure game that children play.

    "Our thoughts are with your family, Francesca and your princess Vittoria. The obligation of everyone that will be close to her will be to tell her who Davide was, because as your daughter grows up has to know who her father was. A man, with a capital 'M'.

    "I'll finish with a story. In the morning, when you used to arrive in the physio room, you were always the one to turn out the lights. That's what you were for all of us: light.

    "Thank you, Davide."

  • Vitor Hugo Davide Astori

    A game gripped by grief

    Fiorentina’s first game since the tragic death of their captain on March 11 was a game unlike any other. On March 11, the grief-stricken team returned to the field for a Serie A match against Benevento. The atmosphere in the purple-stained stands of the Franchi were surreal. In the 13th minute, the referee interrupted the game to pay tribute to Astori.

    The Fiesole unveils a huge written ‘Davide’ tribute, while purple balloons are fly into the sky. It is one of the most difficult days in the history of Italian football. The game will be won 1-0 for Fiorentina with a goal from Vitor Hugo. Fittingly, the defender took the place of Astori in the middle of their defence wearing No.31, the opposite of his departed captain’s No.13. After the goal, the Brazilian gives a salute (pictured) to honour Astori.

  • Tatuaggio Bernardeschi Astori

    Tattoo tributes to No.13 Astori

    Federico Bernardeschi was among those who decided to keep their captain's memory not only in the heart, but also on their skin. A few days after the death of his team-mate, the Juventus forward had the No.13 tattooed on him - the same shirt number that the purple captain wore every weekend for Fiorentina.

    Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli also had #DA13 tattooed on his left arm. The coach has often spoken of the captain in the 12 months since his death, emphasising how strong the bond was between the defender and the rest of the team. He said recently: "The players and I have not yet overcome this pain, because everything revolved around Davide. After what happened, however, I have improved as a man and as a coach."

  • Argentina Italy friendlies 23032018

    A tragedy felt by entire Italy team

    Astori's death opened a deep wound also in Italy’s national team too. In a March friendly against Argentina, the Azzurri paid tribute to their former team-mate by entering into the pitch with special jerseys with the No.13 and on which the words 'Davide’s No.13 will always be with us'.

    A few days later, Italy once again honoured Astori at Wembley during a match against England.

  • Davide Astori

    'Davide è sempre con noi'

    Astori has remained present at the Artemio Franchi after his death. Every match, fans sing chants for him and remember him in the 13th minute and his jersey has never left the home dressing room.

    The former captain still has his locker and his team-mates have always reiterated ‘Davide è sempre con noi’ – which translates from Italian to English as ‘Davide is always with us’.

  • Astori Pezzella Fiorentina fascia

    A fight to keep Astori armband

    A change in Serie A rules for the 2018-19 season dictated that customised captain armbands were no longer allowed. All players were told they must have uniform ones, but at the beginning of the season some refused to comply with the rule, including current Fiorentina captain German Pezzella.

    Fiorentina players do not want to give up the customised armband dedicated to Astori. Viola full-back Cristiano Biraghi says: "The armband will not be touched. If they decide to fine us, we will pay the fines."

    A debate then opens up in Italian football and Serie A decides to grant an exception to the Florence-based club.

  • Stadio Artemio Franchi says to Davide Astori 11032018

    Birthday messages across Italy

    On January 7, 2019, Astori would have turned 32 years old. Fiorentina, Cagliari and all Italian football decide to honour the defender’s memory through a lengthy series of tributes.

  • Fiorentina fans Davide Astori

    Fiorentina's Coppa Italia semi-final tribute

    Almost a year after Astori's death, Fiorentina took the field for an extremely important match: the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Atalanta. The Fiesole dedicated a choreographed tribute to their former captain. It’s a supersized version of the customised armband worn by Fiorentina’s captain in 2018-19, accompanied by text that reads: "Your memory is carved in our minds and our consciousness and nothing will ever erase it." This is how the fans choose to welcome their team on to the pitch, waving 15,000 purple flags with ‘Astori 13’ written on them.

    It is only the last homage of the year for a champion who died too early, but it’s painfully clear that Astori left behind an indelible mark on his club and country.