Giorgio Chiellini pays emotional tribute to tragic ex-Italy star Davide Astori after Euro 2020 triumph

GIORGIO CHIELLINI has paid an emotional tribute to tragic former Italy star Davide Astori following his nation's Euro 2020 triumph.

Roberto Mancini's side outlasted England to lift the trophy on Sunday, winning 3-2 on penalties.

Italy's stars have now been treated to a heroes' welcome on their return home – meeting president Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

Speaking in the nation's capital, Chiellini thanked the president while paying tribute to former team-mate Astori.

In March 2018, the Fiorentina star and 14-cap Italy international passed away in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 31, leaving Italian football in a state of shock.

At the ceremony in Rome, Chiellini said: “Dear president, allow me to thank you on behalf of myself and the team… your presence was an important gesture.

“We wanted to dedicate the win to you and the millions of Italians in the world who have never made us feel alone, accompanying us on the journey.

“We extend the dedication to Davide Astori – we would have liked to have him here with us, he is always present in the thoughts and hearts of those who met him.

“This is a group that has never lost heart, even in difficulties, supporting each other and putting the interest of the team before the individual.

“If we are here today, it’s not only for an extra penalty scored, but because we transformed by sharing our friendship, one of the most beautiful feelings in life."

Chiellini continued by adding his thanks to fellow Italian, tennis star Matteo Berrettini – who was also at the Quirinale Palace ceremony.

Berrettini lost the Wimbledon Men's Singles final at the hands of Novak Djokovic just hours before the nation's Euro 2020 win across London at Wembley – but celebrated the football wildly.

Azzurri skipper Chiellini said: “Matteo [Berrettini], in recent weeks you made us dream, we cheered as if you were a team-mate. Don’t stop.

"This bond made us feel like brothers of Italy, ready for it all and for the call of the country we love.”

Astori's brother, Bruno, also released an emotional statement on Instagram after watching Italy lift the trophy.

Alongside a picture of Astori with Chiellini on Italy duty, Bruno wrote: "I think Davide ran alongside Giorgio and the boys during every step of this Euros.

"Their dedication goes beyond all circumstances and Giorgio's tears are those of a group of boys who shared joys, pains, difficulties, emotions.

"We often think of these guys as otherworldly heroes, because from the outside we see them so perfect and unapproachable.

"But what really makes them heroes is their passion, dedication and love for what they do, in the interest of that group that often takes the place of their family.

"In reality they are boys, fathers, partners, children and siblings as all of us.

"These guys did it: they made us dream, suffer, move and cry and their enormous undertaking will remain forever indelible in the hearts of all of us!

"On behalf of our whole family, thank you guys, with all my heart!"

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