Davide Astori: Rest in peace
Italian football and indeed the entire football world was rocked on Sunday morning when news broke that Fiorentina captain and Italian international, Davide Astori had passed away in a hotel room ahead of the Viola's Serie A game against Udinese. Astori, who was 31 years old, failed to turn up for breakfast with his teammates and was later found to have died in his sleep after what has now been confirmed as a cardiac arrest.
Astori was born on 7 January 1987 in San Giovanni Bianco, near Bergamo, Lombardy. He began playing football at a young age for the Pontisola youth team before moving to local giants AC Milan in 2001. He was 14. Officially, he was attached to Milan for ten years but never actually made a senior appearance for the club.
Astori's senior debut came in 2006. He was sent on loan to Pizzighettone in Serie C1. A year later he was sent back to the same division, this time to play for Cremonese on another season-long loan deal. In 2008 Cagliari made a move for the centre-back. It was agreed he would move to the Sardinians as part of a co-ownership deal with Milan earning €1 million for 50% of his rights.
Astori took a little time to settle at Cagliari. He was very much a bit part player in that first season, but it was a good learning experience for him. He became a regular in the team during the 2009/10 season. Over the next few years, Cagliari and Milan continued to extend the deal, both parties happy with how things were going. In 2011 the switch was finally made permanent for a further €3.5 million.
Throughout his time in Sardinia, Astori improved. He made his international debut in 2011, a year after first being called up to the Azzurri squad. His performances were attracting attention from other Italian clubs as well as clubs from around Europe. It soon became clear he would move on from Cagliari to a bigger club.
Two years after turning down a lucrative move to Russia, he finally made a move to Roma on what was initially a season-long loan. For the first time in his career, Astori played European football. Though he did well for the GIallorossi, the loan was never made permanent. In 2015, he moved to Fiorentina on similar terms.
Astori's performance for the Viola motivated the club to buy him in 2016. At the beginning of this season, Astori was named club captain. Gonzalo Rodriguez had signed with San Lorenzo in his native Argentina. Unfortunately, the Astori era as captain only lasted a few months due to his untimely passing at the weekend.
At international level, Astori was never quite able to disturb the famous BBC backline of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini although he did win 14 caps for the Azzurri. His greatest moment in the national team came in the 2013 Confederations Cup. His sole international goal arrived in the third-place playoff against Uruguay.
On Sunday, Astori's life sadly came to an end but you can be sure that his legacy will live on. Cagliari and Fiorentina have both retired his number 13 shirt. His teammates have been speaking fondly of their memories of the man. Sadly he leaves behind a wife and young daughter. While he will never be replaced, they can take solace from the many tributes that have been paid over the last few days. Davide Astori will be laid to rest on Thursday.