Football greats join mourners on packed streets of Florence for Astori funeral - 247 News

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DEVASTATED Fiorentina players have been joined by the biggest names in Italian football this morning to mourn Davide Astori's death at the age of 31.The grieving footballers shuffled to the Florence church in close company as they were flanked by thousands of fans decked out in scarves in the club's famous violet.The coffin arrived after all the other mourners were inside, fronted by a police escort outside, while the Italian international's grieving widow Francesca Fioretti arrived with close relatives.As the white hearse pulled up to the steps of the building, the thousands of fans in the piazza and on the steps broke into spontaneous applause.The coffin was adorned with an arrangement of lillies, while ballboys and youth players from the football club clapped the captain into the church and then held hands.Fans draped flags and banners from windows overlooking Basilica di Santa Croce in the pictureque Tuscan city as some supporters held their heads in their hands in grief.One fan finds the moving scene all too much as he weeps into his hand The likes of Francesco Totti, Filippo Inzaghi and more famous names were in sombre mood as they arrived for the service.The service took place at the Basilica di Santa Croce, the same church where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried – and a fitting mark of respect for the popular player who represented his country 14 times.Last night Giorgio Chiellini paid emotional tribute to Astori after Juventus' 4-3 aggregate Champions League win over Tottenham.The Juventus captain said: "I cried many times.Davide Astori was born in Bergamo and played for local team Pontisola before joining AC Milan in 2006.Two years later he moved to Cagliari – the club where he would make his name.The centre-back would go on to make 174 appearances in Sardinia, and earn his first Italy cap against Ukraine in 2011.A year later, out of loyalty to Cagliari, he turned down a bumper £12m move to Spartak Moscow.Around the same time, he was scouted as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic by then-Manchester United boss David Moyes.In 2014, Astori agreed a season-long loan to Roma for £1.8m and the Giallorossi paid a further £4.5m to make the deal permanent.But a day before the transfer was set to go through, he instead agreed a new contract with Cagliari.A loan to current club Fiorentina was then agreed with an obligation to buy.Astori went on to make 78 appearances for the club before his untimely death in March, 2018."It was very difficult during the match because we have to think about our opponents, but he is always in our hearts."Tomorrow we go to give the last goodbye with our team-mates."United in grief was former Fiorentina forward and club legend Gabriel Batistuta, who compared Astori to World Cup-winning club and international legend Giancarlo Antognoni.The Argentina international said: "Fiorentina did well to entrust the armband to Davide because he was a real man first and foremost."I always thought the purp

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