Fiorentina captain and defender Davide Astori died of a sudden illness on Sunday morning at the age of 31, the Serie A club said, leaving Italian football in a state of shock.
Italian media reported that Astori was found by his team-mates in the early hours in his hotel room in Udine, where the team was staying ahead of an Italian league match.
The German news agency DPA said the cause of death appeared to be cardiac arrest.
The center back had just become a father two weeks ago.
Fiorentina released a brief statement saying it is "profoundly shaken" by Astori's death.
"For this terrible and delicate situation, and above all out of respect for his family, we appeal to the sensitivity of the media," the club said.
La Fiorentina profondamente sconvolta si trova costretta a comunicare che e' scomparso il suo capitano Davide Astori, colto da improvviso malore.â€” ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) March 4, 2018
Per la terribile e delicata situazione, e soprattutto per rispetto della sua famiglia si fa appello alla sensibilitÃ di tutti. pic.twitter.com/bFGnkReWEC
Former Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a former mayor of Florence, said Astori's passing "seems impossible," adding that he was "in a state of disbelief and I cry with his family and all for Fiorentina."
Football's world governing body FIFA said everyone within Italian football was huddling around Astori's family.
Astori joined Fiorentina on loan in August 2015 and the club signed him outright a year later. He previously spent six seasons at Cagliari and one on loan at AS Roma.
He made 14 appearances for Italy's national side between 2012 and 2017.
Fiorentina's match against Udinese has been called off along with all of Sunday's other matches, including the derby between AC Milan and Inter Milan.
AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso had asked before the announcement for all games to be called off. "I can't think of the derby after a tragedy like that," he said on Twitter.
(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)