Antonio Cassano is a controversial Italian international footballer. Currently playing for A. C. Milan in Serie A, he is known for his ability and infamously for his short temper, leading Fabio Capello to nickname him Cassanata. He also played for Bari, AS Roma, Real Madrid and Sampdoria; his position is that of a second striker.
Born on 12 July 1982 in Bari, Italy, Cassano grew up in the Vecchia area of the city and began playing football at an early age. Local club AS Bari invited him to join their academy and he rose through the ranks to make the first team in 1999.
Debuting against Bari’s rivals Lecce, Antonio played for his hometown side for a couple of seasons before Roma came in for him with a big money offer of €30million in the summer of 2001. His time in the Italian capital was tumultuous, clashing with coach Fabio Capello and subsequent managers. Despite his temperament, Cassano’s talent was never in doubt and he was called up to the senior national team in November 2003, earning his first cap against Poland. He has scored five times for his country in twenty-two appearances and has been to the last two European Championships, but remained an inconsistent inclusion. After contract talks broke down with Roma, Antonio left the eternal city for Real Madrid who got their man at a cut price of €5 million. This lead to a reunion with Capello, but it only lead to conflict once more with officials at the Bernabeu unimpressed with his attitude. This was also something Marcello Lippi picked up on. In both his spells in charge of the Italian national team, he refused to take Cassano to both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. In the summer of 2007 he joined Sampdoria on a season-long loan from Madrid. Antonio’s ill-discipline continued though, being sent off and throwing his shirt at the referee for which he was given a five-match ban. Despite this the club signed him permanently and from January 2009 he formed a potent partnership with new signing Giampaolo Pazzini. Cassano’s relationship with Sampdoria broke down irrevocably in October 2010, with the club’s board applying to have his contract terminated. This was rejected by an arbitration panel and so he was sold to Milan in January 2011. He has come back into the international fold under current Italy boss Cesare Prandelli.
The only major honour Antonio has to date is the 2006-07 La Liga title with Real Madrid, although he also won the Italian Super Cup with Roma in 2001 as well as twice received Serie A’s young player of the year award.