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Thousands gather for funeral of Fiorentina captain Astori

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FLORENCE (Italy): Thousands of people gathered in one of Florence's main squares for the funeral of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori on Thursday.

Some arrived at 7 a.m., three hours before the start of the funeral at Basilica di Santa Croce.

The hearse carrying Astori's body was greeted by loud applause and shouts of his name and "grande capitano" (great captain).

The square then fell silent for a few minutes, while many raised Fiorentina scarves and banners in the air.

The Fiorentina players were also met by applause when they arrived on foot, led by midfielder Milan Badelj.

Many other dignitaries and former teammates were also present, including Giuseppe Rossi, who plays for Genoa, and Borja Valero and Matias Vecino, who play for Inter Milan.

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, who played with Astori for Italy, was in tears as he arrived with Gianluigi Buffon and other Bianconeri players and coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Players and officials from most Serie A teams were present, including former Roma captain Francesco Totti, and former Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura.

Thousands of people were also gathered outside Fiorentina's stadium, where the funeral procession passed slowly on its way to the church.

The 31-year-old Astori was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday after a suspected cardiac arrest before Fiorentina was to play an Italian league match at Udinese in northeast Italy.

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