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Goodbye, Davide. We’ll always love you.

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He was our captain, and he always will be.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference
We love you.
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

As most of you have heard by now, Davide Astori died in his sleep in the team hotel in Udine last night. We don’t know what the cause was (possibly a congenital heart defect), although ultimately it doesn’t matter right now. He leaves behind a wife and a two-year-old daughter. He was 31 years old.

Trayers already wrote something earlier, for which I am deeply thankful; I couldn’t put two thoughts together when I rolled out of bed to post the lineups for the Udinese match this morning and was greeted with this instead. I’m still teary, still crying, still unable to believe that Astori is gone.

It’s really hard to write about something like this. You have to figure out how to say what matters, how to be true and honest without repeating what other people have said billions of times already. You have to avoid conjecture. And you cannot, under any circumstances, make it a story about yourself, about how you’ve experienced trauma in the past or dealt with similar stuff, because then you are writing about yourself instead of honoring the man you set out to honor.

All I can say, then, is that we all loved Davide Astori. We loved him for his elegant, thoughtful, wholehearted play on the pitch. We loved him for his quiet and professional bearing. We loved him because he was our captain. And none of that is complete, and none of it is quite right, either. Because we still love him, even though he’s not with us anymore, and we’re never going to stop.

Goodbye, Davide, and thank you for everything. We love you.