Astori was set for new Fiorentina contract on Monday, reveals president

Andrea Della Valle has paid tribute to the defender, calling him a 'reference point' for the team

Davide Astori was due to sign a new Fiorentina contract on Monday, club president Andrea Della Valle has revealed.

Fiorentina captain Astori, 31, was found dead in his hotel room prior to Sunday's match against Udinese, though the reason for his passing remains unclear.

All seven of the day's Serie A fixtures were postponed following the news , with an autopsy scheduled as the Viola squad flew back to Florence.

Speaking to reporters outside Fiorentina's training ground, Della Valle explained how a meeting for Astori to sign a new contract was moved from last Thursday due to dreadful weather conditions.

"He was going to sign a new contract on Monday, so he could see out his career in Florence," he said.

"It was originally meant to be on Thursday, but we postponed it because of all the chaos caused by the bad weather. I am still in shock.

"He was a reference point for the whole team. We talked for a good half an hour after the Bologna game [a 2-1 win on February 4] and he was telling me all about the project and the new lads. It was like he was already a coach or a sporting director.

"We have to go on and I ask you to understand what our state of mind is right now. The lads must find the strength to react.

"I am proud to have known him. Astori was the first to believe in this reboot for the club and we will always miss him. He was a true captain."

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was among those to pay tribute to "fantastic guy" Astori, who he coached during his time in charge of Italy.

Astori earned four of his 14 Italy caps under Conte between 2014 and 2016.

"[The news] really hurt me. It's very difficult in this moment to find the right words for the family," Conte told Sky Sports ahead of Chelsea's match against Manchester City.

"I had him with the national team. It's very hard in this moment to speak about this tragedy.

"He was a fantastic guy. He was a great player but especially a fantastic guy.

"I stay close to his family in this moment because he was only 31 and it's very difficult to explain the situation with his wife, the parents, the daughter."

Conte is the latest in a long line of football figures to have paid tribute to Astori in the wake of his tragic passing.