Fiorentina captain Astori dies suddenly aged 31

Italy defender and Fiorentina skipper Davide Astori died in his sleep on Saturday night

AN emotional Antonio Conte paid tribute to "fantastic guy" Davide Astori following the tragic news of his death.

Recently retired Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has taken to Instagram to post a heartfelt farewell to worldwide teammate Davide Astori, who passed away suddenly on Sunday.

He was 31. Astori was found in the early hours of Sunday morning in his hotel room in Udine, where the team was staying ahead of an Italian league match.

Astori had made 14 appearances for the Italian national team as well, earning his first cap in 2011 under Cesare Prandelli and while he was not a regular in the Azzurri set up, he would have been in contention to make the squad had the four-time champions qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. "It's very hard at this moment to find the right words for the family", Conte told Sky Sports.

"This is a tragedy and it really hurts me".

The Italian soccer star Davide Astori has died suddenly, aged just 31.

'It's very hard in this moment to find the right words for the family.

"I'm shocked, it's an absurd tragedy", said Giovanni Malago, the president of Italy's national Olympic committee.

The Italy global was a well-respected player in his home nation, especially in Florence, and it has since been announced by Viola chief Della Valle, according to ESPN journalist James Horncastle, that the defender was set to extend his stay with mid-table outfit shortly following this weekend's contest after the initial discussions were delayed due to the weather. I stay close to his wife, parents and daughter.

At this time, an autopsy will be performed at the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital.

Following the confirmation of his death by Fiorentina, the African players unite in mourning the Italy star who made 14 global appearances for the Azzurri.

"Given this awful and delicate situation we appeal to everyone's sensitivity at this time, above all out of respect for his family".

Astori scored his only worldwide goal in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup third-place playoff against Uruguay in Salvador, giving Italy a first-half lead in a match which finished 2-2.

Serie A announced that all of Sunday's matches, including the derby between AC Milan and Inter Milan, would be postponed.

"A man who loved football and who grew up with us". #ACMilan are shocked by the passing of Davide #Astori.

Radja Nainggolan, a Belgian worldwide who played with Astori at two clubs, posted a photo of the two of them joyously celebrating a goal at Cagliari. He also previously played for Roma and Cagliari. The English Football Association said it plans to honor Astori when it hosts Italy at Wembley on March 27 in a friendly.

Dario Nardella, the current mayor of Florence, said the city would observe a day of mourning for the player's funeral.

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