In the early hours of this morning, news has swept the footballing world that Davide Astori, captain of Fiorentina and capped 14 times by italy has sadly passed away in his sleep. The astonishing news comes the morning before he was set to lead his side out to a Serie A fixture against Udinese. In light of this news, all Serie A fixtures scheduled for today have hence been postponed in respect for the passing of Astori. He was reportedly found in his hotel room in Udine.

The man remembered

An ever-present in Italian football Astori amassed 345 appearances over an illustrious career starting with AC Milan, where he was unable to break into the first team.

Astori, however, appeared for Cagliari 173 times scoring 3 goals after enjoying loan spells at both Roma and Fiorentina before making his move permanent to the latter; the club he captained until his sudden death. Tributes have flooded in from clubs and players from around the world as news spread throughout the media. Gianluigi Buffon's statement is simply summed up in the following statement:

"You were one of the best sports figures that I came across."

Italian manager Roberto Mancini offers his condolences alongside ex-AC Milan player and manager Clarence Seedorf and the club themselves have also released a statement. Tributes from Liverpool and Chelsea have also emerged on Twitter to name a few.

The inability to name the countless clubs, players, managers and ex-professionals of the game is in itself a tribute to The Man himself.

Club statement

Following the shock at the loss of their esteemed captain, Fiorentina have released the following statement:

"Fiorentina is deeply saddened to announce that our captain Davide Astori has passed away, after suffering a sudden illness.

For this terrible and delicate situation, and above all out of respect for his family, we appeal to the sensitivity of the media."

He was a modest and outstanding professional to the game and he will be greatly missed, it is moments like this that remind us that football is more than just a game. It is a sport in which the athletes dedicate their lives and Astori was privileged to represent the sport he loved, and Italian football was privileged to have Astori represent the national team and the Italian league throughout his career. It is beautiful to see the world of football celebrate the life and career of Davide Astori despite his premature passing. May he rest in peace.