|Full Name : Antonio Cassano
Date Of Birth: July 12, 1982
Place of Birth: Bari, Italy
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Current Club: Milan
National Debut: 2003
Caps: 28 (9)
Cassano was born in Bari and his father left the family shortly thereafter. He was raised in the Bari Vecchia neighbourhood, and began playing football at an early age. Cassano was spotted by an A.S. Bari scout and brought up through the team's youth system, and he made his Serie A debut for Bari against local rivals U.S. Lecce in 1999.
At the age of nineteen, Cassano signed with reigning Serie A champions A.S. Roma, for a transfer fee of 60billion Italian lire (about €30 million). His first season produced five goals, and he attracted media attention after openly clashing with coach Fabio Capello after he was left out of a practice match a few days after his international debut. In the 2003 Italian Cup final against A.C. Milan, Cassano was sent off after protesting an official's decision, and he flashed the sign of the horns at the referee while leaving the pitch.
He was omitted from the squad during Roma's tumultuous 2004–05 campaign while Luigi Delneri, Roma's third coach of the season (after Cesare Prandelli and Rudi Völler), was in charge. After Delneri himself resigned during the season, his replacement, Bruno Conti, returned Cassano to the starting lineup, with Cassano captaining the team in the absence of incumbent Francesco Totti, who was serving a five-match suspension.
During the 2005–06 preseason, Cassano was in constant conflict with club management over the renewal of his contract, which was due to expire on June 30, 2006. In January 2006, he acrimoniously parted ways with Roma and signed with Real Madrid. for just €5M.
Cassano became the second ever Italian player to sign for Real Madrid after former Roma teammate Christian Panucci. His début came on 18 January 2006, in a Spanish Cup match against Real Betis, and scored his first goal just three minutes after entering the match in the second half. However, just four months into his tenure with the club, he began gaining weight due to poor eating habits, which resulted in Madrid fining him for every gram he remained over his playing weight.
On 30 October, Madrid's official website announced that Cassano had been suspended due to his "disrespect" of Capello, who had joined the club at the beginning of 2006–07 season, following a dressing room argument arising from his omission from the team after a game against Gimnàstic de Tarragona, and was subsequently benched along with David Beckham and Ronaldo. In an interview with a Roman radio station, Cassano said he would "walk all the way back" to rejoin Roma, and indicated his eagerness to make peace with Totti, with whom Cassano had conflicted with before his departure from Roma. However, Cassano remained with Madrid after the January 2007 transfer window had closed, and the rest of his season was cut short by an ankle injury.
In an interview with Spanish radio in July 2007, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón described Cassano's attitude as "unsustainable in the last couple of months" and indicated that he would be leaving the club.
On 13 August 2007, Sampdoria took Cassano on a one-year loan, agreeing to pay €1.2 million of his €4.2 million salary. He was presented to approximately 2,500 fans five days later. In his first press conference, Cassano said that since his first-choice number 18 was already taken by teammate Vladimir Koman, he had instead chosen 99, because 9 plus 9 equals 18.
He made his Sampdoria début in the Derby della Lanterna against Genoa on 23 September, in which he was substituted by former Roma teammate Vincenzo Montella in the final minutes of the match. Cassano scored his first league goal upon his return against Atalanta a week later, in a 3–0 victory. He scored in three consecutive games in January, and helped end league leaders Inter Milan's winning league run with a goal in a 1–1 draw. However, Cassano was sent off in a 2–2 draw with Torino FC on 2 March 2008, which he compounded by hurling his shirt at the referee as he left the pitch, and was punished with a five-match ban. Sampdoria ended the season with a UEFA Cup berth, while Cassano was acquired on a permanent basis by the club on free transfer (plus bonus) from Madrid.
In his second season, Cassano confirmed to have temperamentally improved, also becoming vice-captain for the team behind Angelo Palombo. After the January signing of Giampaolo Pazzini from ACF Fiorentina, Cassano managed to form a fruitful striking partnership with the former viola forward, that was praised by both media and Sampdoria supporters, and led club chairman Riccardo Garrone to compare it with striking duo of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini that led Sampdoria to win their only scudetto to date, an opinion that was later shared also by both Vialli and Mancini.
His third season with Sampdoria again began very well for Cassano, who affirmed himself as a valid assist-man for Pazzini, and being instrumental in the club's impressive seasonal start, that led them up to first place after a 1-0 home win to Inter. However, a result crisis, including a 3-0 defeat in the local derby against crosstown rivals Genoa, left Sampdoria down to mid-table on January, leading head coach Luigi Delneri to put Cassano off the team for "technical and tactical reasons", casting doubts about the player's future at the club.
In the final days of the transfer window, he was linked with a move on loan to Fiorentina, that was however denied with an official statement from the club, but was described by the media as Cassano's own refusal to leave Sampdoria. This was confirmed by Cassano himself through an official statement published on Sampdoria's website, citing his relationship with club chairman Riccardo Garrone, his teammates and the team supporters as the main reason for his choice.
On October 2010 Cassano was excluded from the first team squad with immediate effect after he had a heated row with chairman Riccardo Garrone following the player's refusal to attend an award ceremony. Following such events, Sampdoria formally applied for a contract termination to a league arbitration panel, a position that was confirmed even after Cassano apologised to Garrone and the club. On December 16, the arbitration panel ordered Sampdoria to reinclude Cassano into the first team from 1 January 2011, rejecting the blucerchiati's request for a contract termination, but also concluding Cassano will be paid only 50% of his salary for the remainder of his contract.
On 20 December 2010, it was reported that A.C. Milan, Sampdoria and the player agreed the installment plan to pay a €5 million to Real Madrid which was indicated in Cassano's buy-out clause when he left the Spanish club. Eventually Sampdoria paid €5 million to Real Madrid; Milan paid €3.33 million to Sampdoria, while Cassano had a wage cut with Milan. Cassano then signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Milan, which was later confirmed by Milan's owner Silvio Berlusconi. He made his debut for his new club in a 1-0 win against Cagliari Calcio where he came on as a substitute for Alexander Merkel in the latter stages of the game. He scored his first goal for Milan in a 4-0 win against Parma. He went on to score three more goals that season, two against former clubs Bari and Sampdoria and the other one a penalty against fierce rivals Internazionale.
He never really claimed a spot in the starting XI and was behind Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alexandre Pato and Robinho in the Milan pecking order and due to his wish to keep his spot in the Italian national side, a lot of speculation formed over his future with links to Fiorentina and even English Premier League club Liverpool F.C.. In the end, though, he stayed with Milan and, after a good pre-season, scored in the first Serie A game of 2011-12 against Roman side S.S. Lazio.
Cassano has sixteen caps and four goals with Italy. His début came in November 2003 against Poland, in which he scored his first goal. He was part of Italy's UEFA Euro 2004 squad as a reserve, but after Totti was suspended following a spitting incident with Christian Poulsen in a group match against Denmark, Cassano was inserted into the starting lineup for a 1–1 draw with Sweden in which he scored. He also netted a last-minute winner in a 2–1 victory over Bulgaria, but Italy were eliminated in the group stage on goal difference.
Cassano was left off the final roster for the 2006 World Cup, but was called up for two Euro 2008 qualifying matches in September 2006. He was part of the finals roster and went scoreless in the tournament as Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Spain after a penalty shootout.
After a two-year absence from the Azzurri team, and following widespread criticism from the media towards Marcello Lippi about his exclusion from the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, Cassano was readmitted into the Italian team on August 6, 2010 by new head coach Cesare Prandelli for his first game in charge of the team, a friendly match against Côte d'Ivoire to played on August 10 at Upton Park, London. Almost a month later, in Italy's UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier played in Estonia Cassano scored the tying goal in a 1-2 away victory and also assisted Leonardo Bonucci's second goal with a back-heel. Cassano scored a long-range goal from just outside the box in Italy's 5-0 UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier win over the Faroe Islands. He scored again against Estonia helping Italy secure a 3-0 win.
Cassano got engaged with water polo player, Carolina Marcialis, in 2008 and then married at June 19, 2010 at church, Chiesa di San Martino, in Portofino. Cassano's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, his name is Christopher, he was born on March 14, 2011.
It was reported that on 30 October 2011, Cassano complained of finding it difficult to speak or move when the team returned to Milan.
AC Milan announced and confirmed on 2 November 2011, that Antonio Cassano suffered ischemic-based cerebral damage, though it should be temporary. Cassano underwent minor heart surgery soon after and is expected to return to playing in a few months.
Supercoppa Italiana: 2001
La Liga: 2006–07
Serie A: 2010–11
Supercoppa Italiana: 2011
Serie A Young Footballer of the Year – 2001, 2003