Mario Balotelli among stars at funeral of tragic Italy star Davide Astori

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Some of the best footballers on the planet joined 8,000 Fiorentina football fans to give "the last ciao" to Davide Astori, the Italian defender who died earlier this month.

Players and officials from Serie A and further afield were among those to attend the funeral at the Basilica of Santa Croce, including former Roma captain Francesco Totti and a delegation from Inter Milan led by Javier Zanetti and Luciano Spaletti.

"You were the best expression of an old-fashioned world", Buffon said, "one that people have left behind, and which was governed by values like altruism, elegance, politeness and respect toward others".

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Indeed, as the Captain was carried out of the church in his coffin with a guard of honour formed by children from the youth sector, the fans raised their scarves aloft and let off a myriad of flares as they sang their anthem in unison.

Former Fiorentina forward Gabriel Batistuta was not in attendance, but he sent a message via ANSA, the Italian news agency, expressing his shock at Astori's death.

All of Sunday's seven Serie A games were postponed as a result and tributes from across the footballing world poured in for the defender, who won 14 caps for Italy. Italy worldwide Astori captained club team Fiorentina, who retired the number 13 shirt in his honour.

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The Rossoneri lost the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie 2-0 at home to Arsenal, with a deflected Henrikh Mkhitaryan strike and Aaron Ramsey springing the offside trap.

Footballers often garner a reputation for being inarticulate, but 29-year-old Croatia global Milan Badelj gave a thoughtful and eloquent tribute to his captain during the service. I hope we never forget him. Whenever I saw him in the gym, he would ask me if he could use it. Before the match, he said he was proud and happy for me and my new adventure with Milan. The team was very shaken on Sunday.

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