'You have gone to play football up there' - Bonucci pays tribute to Astori

Leonardo Bonucci posted a heartfelt message on Instagram as he remembered former international team-mate Davide Astori.

Italy team-mates Davide Astori and Leonardo Bonucci   -  Getty Images

AC Milan and Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci gave an insight into the friendship he had with Davide Astori after the Fiorentina captain died suddenly on Sunday.

The football world was left mourning the tragic death of Astori, who was found in his hotel room just hours before Fiorentina were scheduled to face Udinese in Serie A.

All Serie A fixtures were consequently postponed, with the cause of the 31-year-old's death unclear.

Astori earned 14 caps for Italy after making his debut in a friendly against Ukraine in 2011 and Bonucci posted a heartfelt message on Instagram as he remembered his former international team-mate.

"Ciao Grande Asto," Bonucci wrote. "That's what I called you when we'd meet, for a game that saw us as opponents or for a Nazionale get-together.

"A smile, an embrace – one of the real ones – a person who was fair, honest and humble.

"How many times we laughed, joked and celebrated together. How many chats at the table sat side-by-side, or along the corridor that at Coverciano takes us to the [Italy training camp] bedrooms, on the pitch, or in the rooms.

"'Come on Leo, do a sweeping pass like only you know how' was what you kept repeating to me during tactical training sessions. With that smile that never ended and that made it clear how much goodness there was within you.

"You have gone to play football up there and you'll do it with the same big smile. The smile you always had."

Fiorentina midfielder Marco Benassi also used Instagram to pay tribute to his skipper.

"I cannot give an explanation or a reason for all of this…" wrote Benassi. "I have only one certainty, you will forever remain in the hearts of all the people you met and that is because the person you were makes that inevitable!

"Thank you for everything, you will always be our captain. Rest in peace, my friend!"

Federico Bernardeschi, who left Fiorentina for Italian champions Juventus in the off-season, said: "With eyes full of tears, a heart torn apart, I say Thank You my friend, for your humility, your kindness, your teachings, our friendship.

"I'll miss you and I will carry you always in my heart. Look out for your family, your partner and your little princess. I miss you."