Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was left "upset and speechless" by the death of Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini.
The 25-year-old, who was on loan from Udinese, suffered a cardiac arrest during Saturday's Serie B match at Pescara.
Balotelli, who played for the Italy Under-21s at the same time as Morosini, was quoted by english.gazzetta.it as saying: "He was a great lad.
"It's a terrible event and makes you reflect on your own existence. It teaches you to appreciate life and to live it with care and dignity."
He added: "I was upset and speechless when I heard of Morosini's death. I couldn't believe it and thought it was a terrible joke.
"He was a great lad, a really great lad."
The Italian Football Association postponed all remaining matches in the country over the weekend because of the tragedy.