The Curious Case of Antonio Cassano

I did promise you a post dedicated to the man who featured in our last wondergoal sighting, so here it is. Not only that, but here at wondergoal, we try to educate you about football and its players. Few players, probably none are like Cassano. He is like the Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens of European football. For being extremely skilled and loving the limelight.

Now the whole idea of dedicating a post to a player who didn’t even play in the last World Cup might seem strange to you. But if you want to know about football you just need to know who Cassano is. I don’t know why, but just read on.

See I was at another website reading and scrolling through headlines when I came across an article titled Top 10 Italian Badboys of All Time. So I’m reading it and seeing names that I recognize. Christian Vieri (I actually have an Inter Milan jersey of his when I went to Italy in 1999), Marco Materazzi (known for his encounter with Zidane), Mario Balotelli (who only at 19 was pretty high on the list, he’s got more to come too) Claudio Gentile (who is famous for man marking Maradona in the ’82 World Cup and ripping Zico’s shirt in half during the same tournament. A quote about him says that, “If you went to the toilet, Gentile would follow you there”).

Getting on with the story . . . topping the list was none other than Antonio Cassano.

So what makes Cassano such a badboy, because he is quite a player on the pitch. Cassano had Sampdoria near the top of Serie A for much of last season. He has scored 36 goals in all competitions for Sampdoria over the last three seasons. He even had a brief stint with Real Madrid from 2006 to 2008.

Well for starters Cassano’s name is used in a phrase by Italian journalists. Cassanata was created by his old coach Fabio Capello and the Italian journalists use it for any behavior that is incompatable with team spirit in football.

Cassano was born the day after Italy won the 1982 World Cup. He grew up in the poor section of Bari and frequently played football in the streets. One day he was found by an AS Bari scout and brought up through their youth system. He was hailed as the most talented player of his generation.

So in the summer of 2001 Cassano signed for Roma and that’s where his short temper and bullish attitude started to come to the forefront. In this instance, he gets sent off in the final of the Coppa Italia. What the video doesn’t show is that Cassano repeatedly shows the referee horns as he storms off the pitch. He had many spats with the coaches and national team. Then Roma coach Fabio Capello was not pleased with Cassano for not appearing at a practice session shortly after his international debut. Cassano would later confess that while the two were at Roma, the pair told each other to “f*** off” at least 20 times. Cassano and Capello would again be together at Real Madrid. Later Cassano also said that he describes the manager as, “like a father to me.” While also saying that Capello has “always said that the best players he has coached in his career were me and (Brazil’s) Ronaldo.”

After a few manager changes at Roma, Cassano signed with Real Madrid in 2006, and notoriously did not say goodbye to his Roma teammates. Cassano became only the second Italian player ever to sign for Real Madrid. He scored on his debut and scored against local rivals Atletico Madrid, but found it difficult to get first team minutes. Cassano’s erratic behavior and weakness for junk food led to an expanding waist line and continued to see him gain weight. In May of 2006, Madrid started to fine him for every gram he was overweight. Also that year, he was omitted from the World Cup champions squad.

So Capello comes back to Real Madrid from Juventus and is again with Cassano. On October 30, 2006, the Real Madrid club website announced that Cassano had been temporarily suspended from the team, citing his disrespect of coach Fabio Capello following a dressing room argument arising from his omission from the team after a game against Gimnastic de Tarragona. According to the reports, Cassano said that he had always stood behind Capello, since their days at Roma, and asked Capello, “Is this how you repay me?” Real Madrid Madrid president Ramon Calderon described Cassano’s attitude as “unsustainable in the last couple of months” and indicated that he would be leaving the club.

Transfer rumors started swirling with many sources saying that he could go back to Italy. Cassano told a reporter that he would “walk all the way back to Roma,” that he never should have left, and that he wanted to make peace with Francesco Totti, with whom he had a falling out.

In August of 2007, Cassano accepted a one year loan deal to Sampdoria. He wanted the number 18, but it was taken by a teammate so he chose 99 instead because 9 plus 9 equals eighteen. Towards the end of that 07-08 season Cassano was sent off against Torino and here’s his response. You don’t need to watch the full video just the first minute and a half is fine.

A five match ban ensued from that and at the end of the season Sampdoria permanently secured his services.

In November of 2008, Cassano released his autobiography titled, “Vi Dico Tutto” (I’ll tell you everything). This is the really fun part, and a lot of the quotes in this post so far have come from his autobiography.

About his origins Cassano said, “I was poor my whole life, but I never worked, mainly because I don’t know how to do anything.” When referring to his grades, “I had a ‘2′ in all subjects [Italy uses a grading system from 1-10, 2 is almost equivalent to a 20]. I failed a grade 6 times, from elementary school to middle school.”

Relationships with coaches:Eugenio Fascetti (former Bari manager) is the only manager I never caused trouble with (key word, caused.; meaning he was trying to start problems). I detested Claudio Gentile (former Italy U21 manager)”. To Luciano Spalletti he said, “You’re not coaching those useless players you had at Udinese, this isn’t your house, it’s my house.” Then on Fabio Capello: “In Tarragona he made me and Ronaldo warm up the whole second half without putting us in. In the locker room I told him ‘you’re a piece of s***, you’re more fake than Monopoly money“. Then on Luigi Del Neri: “I never understood what the f*** he was talking about and he was too ambiguous.“. About former Roma striker Gabriel Batistuta he said, “he had a smell under his nose” (basically saying he smelled bad).

His two passions, food and sex: “Four girlfriends in 11 years is a low number.” And then, “Many times I played great games right after having sex. Go look at Roma-Juve 4-0. I had sex at six in the morning that Sunday, with one of the many ‘friends’ I had at that time. In Madrid it was even easier, because we were in a hotel, the whole squad and staff on one floor, so on the floors above or below you could invite whoever you wanted to meet you during the night. I made friends with one of the waiters. His job was to bring me 3 or 4 cornetti after I had sex. He would bring the cornetti to the stairs, I would bring the girl and we would make a trade: he took the girl, I stuffed myself with cornetti. Sex plus food, the perfect night.”

In his autobiography, Cassano also said how he had slept with between 600 and 700 women by the age of 25.

There are also reports that he punched Marcello Lippi’s son Davide in a nightclub, thus leading to his exclusion from the 2010 World Cup squad. Another story is that Cassano stole a moped in his village, days after signing his multi-million contract with Roma.

When Lippi came back to manage the squad in 2010, it basically locked Cassano out. Later when asked if he would consider rescheduling his wedding to a 19 year old water polo player if he was somehow picked (wedding was set for June 19. During the World Cup) Cassano replied, “No way. I do it my way. Maybe prima donnas are not accepted by a group but I have always been one and will continue to be.”

So here is the end of the tale concerning Antonio Cassano. A gifted player on the pitch who many will say has never reached his full potential because of his short temper, personality, and continuous fueds. He might just be a maniac, but many Italian fans wanted Lippi to select him. So here’s to you Antonio Cassano . . . a video.

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2 Responses to The Curious Case of Antonio Cassano

  1. Jay says:

    “to have a smell under the nose” in Italian means “to be stuck-up”, not “to smell bad”!

  2. Pingback: Footballers Convention » Blog Archive » A Time for Giving Thanks

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