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Antonio Cassano; The Boy From Bari

Antonio Cassano’s career has been dominated by bust-ups and controversy. He also claims to have slept with six hundred women, but that’s a different matter. Cassano was born on the 12th of July 1982, which just happens to be the day Italy won their third World Cup. He grew up in a rough port in Bari, southern Italy. His mother raised him and rarely went to school, instead he played football on the streets. It was there that his, and every other top footballers qualities develop. A genius was born.                                                                      


Bari                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Eventually Cassano was spotted by a A.S Bari scout, and was brought up through the academy. When he finally made his debut at the age of seventeen against Inter, and scored the winner. He went on to score six goals in forty-eight appearances. Heads were starting to turn.

Roma                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In 2001 Roma snapped him up for sixty billion Italian lire, (thirty million euro nowadays), at just nineteen. His years in the capital were nothing less the controversial, with constant clashing with managers and players. He was left out of Fabio Capello’s and Luigi Delneri’s teams at times. Scoring forty-eight goals in four seasons, but contract issues made him part ways with Roma.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Real Madrid                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Everybody thought Madrid had got a bargain, signing Cassano for just five million. Or was it? As after just four months he was shockingly over weight. He lived in a hotel in Madrid, eating pastry after pastry. Which lead to Madrid fining Cassano for every gram he went over weight. The following season Capello suspended him for disrespect, Beckham and Ronaldo were also benched at the time. When talking to a radio show, Cassano claimed he would “walk to Rome” to play for them again.

On 13 of August 2007 Sampdoria took Cassano on a one year loan, later made permanent. He made his debut against rivals Genoa, in the Derby Della Lanterna. In his second season, striker Giampaolo Pazzini arrived from Fiorntina,(now at Inter). This was the start of a brilliant partnership, that would lead a charge towards four place more regularly. Midway through his third season though Cassano was dropped by coach Luigi Delneri. For “technical and tactical reasons”. Sampdoria looked better without him, his teammates seemed more relaxed. Not having to pass it to Cassano all the time. He didn’t want to leave though, despite being heavily linked with Fiorentina. When he was brought back in, Sampdoria were knocked out of the Champions League before the group stages. In October 2010 he was yet again excluded from the team after a heated row with owner Riccardo Garrone. Cassano didn’t want to go to an award ceremony, he didn’t put it as politely. Garrone tried to terminate his contract, but it was rejected by the league. He apologised, but his wage was cut by fifty percent.

Milan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In the January that followed, Cassano signed for top of the table Milan.
Currently at Milan, Cassano hasn’t got much game time, with Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho infront of him. He has a three and half year contract.

World Cup
Getting knocked out in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup was a complete failure and embarrassment for Italians. Lippi was slated for bringing old players. There was uproar all over Italy, especially in Bari, for Cassano to lead the line. It was a real missed opportunity for a generation of players. Miccoli and Cassano should have got a look in. Instead Cassano married Carolina Marcialis on the ninth of July. Although under Prandelli, Cassano has been first choice and delivered a real master class against the Faroe Islands, Italy won five-nil. It remains to be seen how we do at Euro 2012.
Antonio Cassano will live long in the memories of many football fans. Probably for the wrong reasons though. I believe he wasted his talent to an extent, he could have been world class but he didn’t try hard enough. He has to be the most outrageously entertaining since Diego Maradona.

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