Monday July 31 2017
Let Cassano find peace

Antonio Cassano has been ridiculed following his retirement confusion, but Livio Caferoglu believes the 35-year-old needs our support.

How did it come to this? Less than a week after retiring and back-tracking on the same day, Antonio Cassano announced he would be hanging up his boots after all. Six more days have passed and the decision still stands, but not without the former Italy star being subjected to personal attacks over social media. Sadly, these people have short memories about why his genius was so flawed.

His recent transfer to Verona seemed doomed from the outset. He only signed on July 10, despite the Serie A new boys suggesting they wouldn’t register him, before reports of homesickness and that he would retire surfaced just eight days later. A Press conference to confirm his departure from football then turned into the 35-year-old doing the opposite, in what appeared to be an act of defiance.

Fast forward six more days, however, and speculation of an imminent retirement returned. This time, it was Cassano’s wife who publicised he would be leaving Verona but still play football, but she soon deleted that Twitter post and followed it up with another, in which the ex-Roma and Sampdoria ace stated his partner was “wrong” and that he would be retiring after all.

But while this media circus was happening, Cassano’s state of mind was overlooked. Rumours of his retirement ranged from stress and homesickness, due to his family not joining him at Verona, to a struggle for fitness and lack of motivation. Indeed, Fant’Antonio had been on the scrapheap for a year-and-a-half after he was exiled by Sampdoria.

Of course, this frenzy may have impacted negatively on Verona’s pre-season preparations, but the Gialloblu should’ve done more research on what they were getting themselves into. Once Cassano had announced his retirement a second time, President Maurizio Setti showed how much of a dinosaur he was, flippantly claiming the attacker’s head “wasn’t right”.

Not only did Setti potentially expose Cassano was struggling with adverse mental health, but he also displayed his own ignorance and contempt for a condition that largely remains a taboo in the sport. Indeed, this is someone who was raised in poverty, has never had a father figure for a sustained period in his life and was catapulted into Calcio fame at the age of just 17. His raw talent was no match for a self-destructive streak.

For as long as Italian football and a section of its followers make such a mockery of a player that has given us so many unforgettable memories, they both should take a leaf out of the Premier League’s book.

Everton winger Aaron Lennon was detained under the Mental Health Act in England at the end of last season, but his club stood by him throughout his ordeal, while there was an outpouring of support from fans nationwide. The former Tottenham Hotspur ace has gone on to resume his playing career.

While Cassano was able to at least largely continue his career at a decent level, Adriano lost his way and didn’t have the same support network to steer him back to the light. The Brazilian was an exceptional talent who had everything to make him one of the best centre-forwards in the world, but no amount of money or fame can buy peace of mind. That truly is priceless. Just ask Paul Gascoigne or Gianluca Pessotto.

Cassano was clearly unprepared for the price of fame, which led to a career that spawned brilliance and farce in equal doses. Sadly, the latter took precedence whenever the Bari native had found the path to greatness. Talk of yet another comeback has since done the rounds, but as much as his grace will be missed on a football pitch, Cassano must first conquer his demons once and for all. We’ve seen what can happen. Agostino Di Bartolomei. Robert Enke. Gary Speed.

Cassano’s family have made it clear that they are ready to stand by him, and it’s an offer that he can ill-afford to pass up. Italian football, on the other hand, should be doing more than just sitting back and letting one of its most-loved figures suffer in silence.

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Have your say...
And Gianluca Pessotto's case could not be any more different from Cassano's. Pessotto's conduct throughout his career was the polar opposite of that of Cassano, serious and professional, and his struggles with depression had to do with calciopoli, not wasting his talent. That Pessotto managed to play 22 times for Italy while not being anywhere near as gifted as some of his contemporaries is a testament to his work ethic and professionalism. Gotta love those Friulians.
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 5:19pm
If people are ridiculing Cassano it isn't because he may or may not be depressed, it's because from the beginning to the farcical end of his career he's behaved like an immature brat. If he needs the support of anyone, it's a mental health professional. As for fans and club directors, throughout his career he's been paid millions of dollars to sulk and throw tantrums and otherwise waste his God-given talent doing and saying things no grown adult should - I don't think we owe him anything.
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 5:11pm
I think it's unfair to criticize him just because he's a footballer. Besides he's overcome adversity n if someone has mental health issues then it really doesn't matter what profession they r in?! They could b wealthiest guy in world n still b depressed!
I don't get what all the hooha is! Just let the man retire in peace. It's a shame tho,him n Cerci would've been class 4 Verona. I'll remember him 4 his skill when playing 4 Italy. They haven't got a no 10 like him now unless Berna steps up!
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 6:24am
I wish him all the best for his retirement!
What a great talent. He'll b missed.
His career was up n down n maybe he could achieved more but he was Italy's best attacker at Euro 2004 n (sho)would've been in the 2006 World cup squad but for his attitude. Still, Totti is revered but it was Cassano who took his place in 04 after Totti got suspended 4 spitting. Funny how football judges n remembers sometimes!
He doesn't deserve 2 b attacked! Pple should just remember his brilliance.
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 6:07am
... Anyone who remembers watching matches at Bar Italia in Soho, World Cup 2006, and chanting " 'Luca Pe-ssotto!", will remember the love & respect for that man.
I wore my home-made Pessotto shirt with pride throughout that World Cup, even whilst watching the final in a small town in S France - the only Italian fan.
Pessotto & his depression are entirely different from Cassano & shouldn't be mentioned in this article.
Big respect to Cassano though.
I love them both for different reasons.
on the 1st August, 2017 at 11:09pm
Bringing Pessotto into this is ignorance.
The man lived a perfectly professional life as a player, never causing grief or upset on or off the pitch until the farce of calciopoli & retiring as a player.
Seeing his depression sparked me to raise awareness & money for anti-depression charities - anyone can suffer.
He was able to overcome & again be a symbol of strength & professionalism...
on the 1st August, 2017 at 11:05pm
I agree that Cassano needs to be treated and respected for the talent, enigma, and human that he is.
For all his tantrums, even signing for Inter, I will forgive him. I've always loved his flair & personality on the pitch.
He was never the man to lead a flawless career of success though - his fire and attitude have been there to bring theatre and drama to a world of Italian football that has sadly diminished since the 90s...
on the 1st August, 2017 at 10:59pm
Point of clarification

Adriano was the Imperator, not the Fenomeno (which was the original Ronaldo)
on the 1st August, 2017 at 7:10am
Since when was he "well-loved"??!! He was always a joke from day 1. His talent was unbelievable but you can't compare him to Leonardo, at least Leonardo actually lived up to his potential for a few years. Cassano never once lived up to anything except his foolishness.
on the 1st August, 2017 at 3:43am
This spoiled brat has never treated anyone right, has been given all the help and "support" he's ever needed, and if he doesn't want to do his "job", if that's what we can call being a professional football player, then I guess he'll just have to live off his millions until his money runs out.....
on the 31st July, 2017 at 9:39pm
This is a great article that reminds us of the humanity of footballers and reminds us that targeting them can pose a risk to their sanities and, potentially, their lives. Well done!
on the 31st July, 2017 at 4:28pm
surely he got support from his respective clubs in addition he is a multi millionaire surely he is capable of seeking a a practitioner for his mental health problems. If he doesn't like people laughing than why at every opportunity he act like a clown even ignoring his retirement some of his antics were comical. It not like i don't for sorry for him he was one of football best prospects and flushed it all down the toilet. Good luck to him in his retirement.
on the 31st July, 2017 at 2:40pm
I feel for him and I feel for Balotelli as well. For me they have the same struggles, both had the potential to be Champions but their demons got the better of them. I hope he finds peace in retirement. So sad.
on the 31st July, 2017 at 2:34pm
Support is only given to those who deserve. Cassano was given plenty of support throughout his career. A boy from poverty wouldn't have made it this far otherwise. Time after time, those supporters were then being taken advantage of by what thought to be a talented boy only to turn into a crook. This is nothing new when it comes to a Cassano's drama. This article is no different from the 100 archives on "Give a chance to Balotelli", and everyone is please to say HECK NO!
on the 31st July, 2017 at 12:31pm
Why do people keep defending this childish buffoon?
on the 31st July, 2017 at 12:09pm
Yep, I am a dinosaur.
on the 31st July, 2017 at 9:39am
@mmmmmm: Jesus Christ, what kind of comment is that? So you did not get anything constructive out of the article I guess. The author speaks of outdated, old school, attitudes towards psychological problems/issues - and here you are, inhibiting the role of spokesperson for the 'dinosaur mentality.'
on the 31st July, 2017 at 9:13am
I have a suggestion make him work in some factory, so he can see how is life when you work what doesn't make you remotely happy, but you are doing it so you survive.
Instead he had it all and decide to stay a child.
on the 31st July, 2017 at 7:32am

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