Antonio Cassano insists “I’m very happy, not crazy or depressed” after his retirement confusion and reveals “I could become a sporting director.”
In the second part of his candid interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Cassano named the two clubs that he could join before his self-imposed deadline of next month and asserted he had no regrets about the way he handled his exit from Verona.
“Not playing for 474 days? It’s too many. The derby [against Genoa] on May 8 [last year] is long enough,” continued the eccentric star.
“I’ve given myself a deadline. If a call doesn’t arrive by September, I’ll retire. I don’t have an agent, so whoever wants me will know how to contact me.
“Which teams could persuade me to return? Entella or Cagliari and no-one else at the moment.
“I have a relationship with [Entella President] Gozzi that goes beyond football. There was a handshake with him in January, but then I didn’t feel like playing in Serie B. I explained that to him and he understood.
“I thank him again [for his understanding], and now I’m ready. Taking Entella into Serie A would be a dream. At Cagliari, I’d find [former fitness coach Agostino] Tibaudi: he knows how to coach me.
“That aside, I love Sardinia and its people, I go there on holiday every year. With [Cagliari President] Giulini, there’s a reciprocal esteem and affection.
“Do I regret leaving Verona? No. The spark wasn’t there. After 3-4 days, I told [Coach] Pecchia that I wanted to leave, I felt like a fish out of water.
“It wasn’t the ideal environment for me and I preferred to leave immediately and not once the campaign started.
It wasn’t a physical problem: I lost 7lbs in 15 days. Just ask Verona: the test results are there.
“At 25, I had more physical and mental strength. At 35, I just couldn’t start completely from scratch.
“At Verona, I felt an alien. But I never thought about really leaving football behind. This is my world.
“The truth about Cassano? Cassano’s a happy man. Very happy. He has his wife Carolina and two sons, Christopher and Lionel. He clings to them with a suffocating embrace, full of love.
“Does it look like that I can be depressed? My children and family come first and foremost.
“I’m neither crazy nor depressed, I’m coherent: At Verona, I didn’t feel right and so I left.
“I never pretended to give moral lessons to youngsters, but I’ll be remembered as a great player, I’m sure. And then...
“What I’ll do once I retire? I’ll remain in the football world and I could become a sporting director.”