'We'll continue his smile in our heart': Chiellini pays emotional tribute to Davide Astori before 'last ciao'

Georgio Chiellini paid a powerful tribute to his former Italy teammate and friend Davide Astori last night, writes Stephen Barry.

On an emotional rollercoaster of a night for Chiellini, he fought back tears during a minute's silence for Astori, put in a mammoth defensive performance to lead Juventus' comeback against Spurs and poignantly remembered Astori after the final whistle.

Juventus' Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon celebrate victory at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

Having celebrated the 4-3 aggregate win at Wembley, Chiellini took time to recall Astori before saying a "last ciao" at today's funeral in Florence.

"We dedicate to him not only this match but every mind in this day," said Chiellini on BT Sport.

"I cry many times. I always believe him because he's a fantastic player.

"It's very difficult during the match because we have to think of the game, of the opponents, and it's not easy. It's always in our heart.

"Tomorrow we go to give the last ciao (goodbye) together with our teammates.

"It's difficult but we have to continue our life. For us, it's important in national team in our heart to always bring his positive emotion and always smile.

The coffin is carried into the church during the funeral ceremony of Davide Astori. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Chiellini was in tears as he arrived with Gianluigi Buffon and other teammates for Astori's funeral today.

Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon arrives for the funeral ceremony of Davide Astori. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

"You are the brother or the son that everyone would have wanted to have," said Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj in a message on behalf of the club during the service.

"Your parents didn't make any mistake with you, not even the tiniest bit. You're not like others, you are football, the real one, the pure one of children.

"Our thoughts go out to your mother and your father, to your brothers, to Francesca and to Princess Vicky. You were a man with a capital M and we will tell her. You are the light for all of us."

Thousands of people gathered outside in one of Florence's main squares and the hearse carrying Astori's body was greeted by loud applause, shouts of his name and "grande capitano" (great captain).

Fiorentina fans wait outside the church during the funeral ceremony of Italian player Davide Astori. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

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.

The defender, who played 14 times for Italy, was discovered by Fiorentina staff when he failed to show up for breakfast at the hotel in Udine.

- Digital desk and PA

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