In conversation with Sky Sport Italia, Antonio Cassano talks about his turbulent life and the many missed opportunities. “I am the greatest talent to throw all away”
Specifically, going back to his fights with Fabio Capello, the Real Madrid bosses and the imminent return of Sampdoria, he says, “I am the greatest talent to have thrown everything away in recent years because I really did throw myself away.”
Cassano confessed, “It’s one thing to change, another to not want to train, insult everyone and start arguments from morning till night. The ‘wild genius who breaks the rules’ thing only goes so far, and I really did cross the line too many times.”
Cassano shot to fame at Bari, then was bound with Francesco Totti at Roma until his ill-fated move to Real Madrid in January 2006:
“The biggest regret is not making the most of the opportunity to play for the biggest club in history at the age of 23, with teammates like Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo. I threw away a huge chance at Real Madrid.
“I was effectively replacing Luis Figo and Michael Owen, so I was good, but I caused one disaster after another. Capello arrived at Real Madrid afterwards. I’d lost 16kg in training, scored two goals in three games and he benched me for the fourth. I lost my mind, and when you disrespect Capello, he cuts you out.
“He gave me another chance even after all that. He did so much for me, but I did precious little for him in return.”
Cassano continued his unfortunate propensity to ruin good ties when he clashed with President Riccardo Garrone of Sampdoria: “The best experience of my career was at Sampdoria. I was coming off 18 dark months at Real Madrid, but I rediscovered myself and did something extraordinary in Genoa.
“We finished fourth in Serie A and reached the Coppa Italia Final with what was frankly an average squad. I also met my wife during that experience and that is why I will forever remain in Genoa.”
He goes on to talk about family. “Children change you. If I’d had my kids when I was 20, I’d have taught them all the wrong lessons. I’ve improved now and it’s above all thanks to my wife. I’m so proud to have her by my side.”
There were plans for him to work for Samp in a different capacity after his retirement, the 37-year-old said. “I met with (Sampdoria President Massimo) Ferrero six months ago, we took some time to evaluate things. We talked and my idea was to be a director of sport. We’ll have to see if he has changed his mind.”
Still, it’s a long way from what Cassano says he would have done without a career in football. “I barely went to school and was hardly an intellectual, but I don’t think I would’ve fallen in with a bad crowd, as that would’ve upset my mother too much. I’d probably have ended up working in a butcher’s or a supermarket.”