Football has had some difficult and distressing issues to deal with recently, from Villa Park to Somalia to White Hart Lane, but there was at least some encouraging news this week after it emerged that AC Milan striker and everyone’s favourite croissant eater Antonio Cassano has been given the all-clear to resume playing football.
There were fears Cassano might never play again last October when the 29-year-old fell ill on the plane home from Milan’s 3-2 win against Roma. The Italian striker was hospitalised with ‘stroke-like symptoms’ which ultimately required heart surgery to repair a small cardiac malfunction.
Thankfully for him and for the game, Fantantonio pulled through and has now been granted official permission to resume training and playing. “Antonio is as happy as a child. He’s been through some delicate times, with thousands of thoughts, questions and reflections,” his agent Beppe Bozzo told the media.
Here are five reasons why this was truly great news for football and why the game needs Antonio Cassano back as soon as possible:
1) The Skills
Cassano is a man of effortless skill. What’s more, his nonchalant, pure ability with a football is often delivered with casual impudence and that cheeky grin we all know and love:
2) Il Cassanata – the tantrums
Many players misbehave every now and then, but few do so enough to have a word named after them that enters mainstream language as a byword for brazen behaviour. Originally coined by Fabio Capello during his time with Cassano at Roma, cassanata became a euphemism in mainstream Italian language for behaviour not quite in line with the norms expected of a professional footballer.
Put simply, Cassano is an emotional character, and sometimes those emotions boil over in weird and wonderfully compelling ways:
3) He scores when he wants – with added pastries
As told in his autobiography ‘Dico Tutto’ (Telling Everything):
“Four girlfriends in 11 years are not a lot. To make up for that, I’ve also had other flings here and there. Let’s say 600-700 women, some twenty of which were from the entertainment world.”
“I’ve often played a great match after having sex. Watch the 4-0 of the Roma-Juve match. I had sex that Sunday morning with one of the many friends I had at the time. It was even easier in Madrid because we were in a hotel, all on the same floor, so it was easy to invite whomever I wanted from upstairs or downstairs and meet her during the night.”
“I had a friend who was a waiter. His job was to bring me 3 or 4 croissants after I had sex. He would bring the croissants up the stairs, I would escort the woman to him and we would make an exchange: he would take the girl and I would take the croissants. Sex and then food, a perfect night.”
Football needs Fantantonio the player.
4) Because he’s Antonio Cassano for crying out loud!
In a modern game airbrushed of its personalities (you only need look at the regular tut-tut-tutting at Cassano’s heir apparent Mario Balotelli from the sidelines for evidence of this), it is as refreshing as a nice sauna and a dive in a cool bath to have players like Cassano, Il Gioiello di Bari Vecchia (the jewel of Old Bari) around.
Keep your media training, your canned answers and your cool restraint – we’d rather watch a guy like Cassano lose his temper, cry, slap someone in the face and then slap one into the top corner from 25 yards before stripping to his pants to hug the opposing manager any day.
Well, because without Cassano who else is Zlatan Ibrahimovic going to kick in the head during Scudetto celebrations?
Why else does football need Antonio Cassano? This is an open thread – tell us other reasons why in the comments below, on Twitter @JustFootball or on Facebook and we’ll add all the good ones to the list in Cassano’s honour.
Welcome back Fantantonio!
(photo credit: AC Milan Official on Flickr)