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Italian soccer star Davide Astori dies at 31

By Allen Cone
Italian soccer star Davide Astori dies at 31
Davide Astori, a 31-year-old defender on Italy's Fiorentina international team, was found dead in his hotel room Sunday morning in Udine. Photo courtesy of Fiorentina/Twitter

March 4 (UPI) -- Davide Astori, a star defender on Italy's Fiorentina soccer team, was found dead in his hotel room Sunday morning in Udine. He was 31 years old and the likely cause of death reportedly was cardiac arrest.

Sunday's game against Udinese was postponed after the announcement of the player's death. It was later confirmed that the other six Serie A games were called off for the week.

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"Fiorentina is deeply shocked, and has to communicate that its captain Davide Astori has passed away," the Florence team posted on Twitter. "Because of the terrible and delicatesituation, and most of all for the respect due to his family, we make an appeal to everybody's sensitiveness."

ANSA, the Italian news wire, reported Astori died of "cardiocirculatory arrest" while staying with his Fiorentina teammates at the Best Western Hotel La di Moret in Udine in northeast Italy.

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"The belief is that the player died of a cardiac arrest by natural causes," Udine prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo said in a ESPN report. "It is strange that such a thing should happen to a professional who is so closely monitored without there being any warning signs."

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His longtime girlfriend was model Francesca Fioretti with whom they had a 2-year-old daughter, Vittoria, according to a CNN report of Italian media outlets.

"He was a fantastic guy -- a great player but especially a fantastic guy," said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who formerly coached Astori on the Italian team, in an interview with Sky Sports before his team's match against Manchester City. "I stay very close to his family in this moment because he was only 31. It's very difficult to explain this situation."

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Fiorentina's captain led the team with eight shutouts. His last goal was in a 5-0 victory over Hellas Verona in September.

Born in San Giovanni Bianco, about a 90-minute drive northeast of Milan, Astori began his senior career with AC Milan in 2006. But he was loaned out to two lower-division teams and didn't play for the team.

He joined Cagliari in 2008 where spent most of his career there in 174 international match appearances.

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Astori went on loan to Roma in 2014 and then to Fiorentina in 2015. He became a permanent member of the team in 2016 and made 57 appearances for the squad, including three goals.

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He also played 14 games for the Italian national team. In 2013, his lone goal was in a 2013 Confederations Cup third-place match against Uruguay. Italy won the match 3-2 on penalty kicks.

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