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Captain Forever - Fiorentina pay emotional Astori tributes

By Jamie Smith
Glowing tributes poured in for Davide Astori

Rome, March 11: Fiorentina paid emotional tributes to Davide Astori in the team's first fixture since the sudden death of the club captain.

Astori passed away in his hotel room last Sunday just hours ahead of a scheduled Serie A match with Udinese, an autopsy showing the 31-year-old died from natural causes that led to heart problems.

Sunday's game against Benevento was an understandably sombre affair, with players warming up in shirts bearing Astori's name and number.

Prior to the game a banner bearing Astori's name and the message "captain forever" was laid on the Stadio Artemio Franchi pitch.

When the sides emerged for the match, Fiorentina players held up a banner with "Ciao Davide" written on it before a long period of memorial silence prior to kick-off.

White and purple balloons were released into the Florence sky and fans chanted "there's only one captain" before the game was paused on 13 minutes to mark Astori's squad number.

The ball was kicked out of play and the message 'Davide 13' was held up in the stands as players, staff and officials applauded.

Vitor Hugo opened the scoring for Fiorentina and paid further tribute to Astori by holding a shirt with Astori's picture on the front aloft, before then saluting it.

Milan Badelj has succeeded Astori as Fiorentina's captain and the midfielder pledged to continue the work of the former Italy international.

"I will try to do my best to maintain his spirit not just alive, but always present and tangible to all of us who were close to him," he told Mediaset Premium.

"We'll try to put into our work everything he always did, which is the hard work, spirit, grit and determination. I'll try to transmit that to the team.

"It was him who kept all of us together and helped this relatively new and young team to grow relatively quickly. We want to keep his wonderful work going."

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    Story first published: Sunday, March 11, 2018, 18:00 [IST]
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