Many in Italy have expressed their shock and sadness over the death of Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini after the midfielder collapsed on the pitch in his team's Serie B match at Pescara on Saturday. Morosini, 25, who was on loan from Udinese, suffered a cardiac arrest during the game and was rushed to Pescara's Santo Spirito hospital, where he was declared dead.
Several thousand people gathered outside Livorno's Armando Picchi stadium to pay tribute to the player. The fans left scarves and flowers outside the stadium. Livorno issued a statement thanking everyone for the overwhelming support they have received in the last few hours. It said: "The family, the girlfriend of Piermario and AS Livorno Calcio wants to thank all of the people that in this time of pain have remembered a great athlete and a special person.''
Ernesto Randazzo, the player's agent, was still coming to terms with the tragic loss of the 25-year-old.
"I knew him for 13 years,'' he said. "His aim was to make his stay at Livorno permanent. He had always been in very good condition and proof of that was all the medical check-ups he had undergone with all of the teams he had played for.''
The tragedy has made front-page headlines of all the major newspapers in the country. National newspaper La Repubblica leads with Morosini's death with the headline: ''He dies on the pitch, drama in football.'' La Repubblica's editorial best summarises the sentiment of the nation, reading: ''Incredulous and helpless.''
An inquiry into Morosini's death will be opened after a parked car belonging to traffic police had initially blocked the ambulance's path into the stadium and its window had to be broken so the car could be moved. Turin-based sports newspaper Tuttosport described the pain felt by everyone who knew Morosini. ''We have lost a son,'' read its headline, which added, ''No-one can forget the horrible images of Pescara v Livorno.''
Morosini fell to the ground in the 31st minute of the game and tried to get back up before collapsing again. Despite desperate attempts to resuscitate him, Morosini never regained consciousness. Corriere dello Sport has several photographs of the incident on the front page followed by a caption which reads: ''Tragedy in Pescara, Morosini suffers a sudden illness and dies. He was only 25.''
Italy and Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia, who was a friend of Morosini, said: "There is huge grief. It leaves an enormous hole."
FIFA president Sepp Blatter tweeted: "Only tears. There are no words to express what I tried to when I found out about Piermario Morosini's death. The tragedy which hit everyone who wished him well, is a source of great pain for football fans."
Corriere's editorial makes reference to the series of personal tragedies that had hit Morosini in his young life. ''A life marked by pain,'' it read. The Bergamo-born player had lost both his parents before he turned 18. Shortly after, Morosini also lost his disabled brother, who committed suicide, leaving him alone with his handicapped elder sister. Morosini moved to Udinese in 2005 from Atalanta's youth academy before embarking on a series of loan spells elsewhere - first at Bologna, then Reggina, Padova, Vicenza and finally Livorno. He made 18 appearances for Italy Under-21s.
"He was golden, always trying to help his family," Atalanta youth team director Mino Favini said. "He was a fantastic lad who always rushed to help everyone. He lived for his family, yet he was such an unlucky man."
All Serie A and Serie B games this weekend have been postponed in the player's memory and Italy's sports minister Piero Gnudi has requested for athletes to undergo more frequent medical tests. Gnudi said: ''It is always difficult to accept the death of a young man of only 25, especially during a context of enjoyment and sport. The recent repetition of dramatic incidents like this must also force us to work on doing everything possible to guarantee accurate and frequent medical tests so that we may limit in every way the chance of this happening again.''
Damiano Tommasi, president of the Italian Players' Union, has planned a meeting in the near future to discuss testing of players for heart-related problems.
''It is a tragedy that leaves us helpless and disarmed,'' Tommasi said. ''An event like this is inexplicable. We wait to find out more from the autopsy, but now the prevailing sensation is of sadness. We had a meeting planned on Monday, which has been postponed, but we will now organise a get-together to discuss this tragedy and the problems tied to ensuring the safety of players. If in professional divisions there are certain guarantees, tens of thousands of players in the amateur Leagues have very few scans."