Antonio Cassano looked back over his many regrets. “I should’ve listened to Francesco Totti. I turned down Juventus twice and ruined everything at Real Madrid.”
The 35-year-old striker is a free agent after terminating his contract with Sampdoria by mutual consent, but so far doesn’t seem to have many offers on the table.
“I am another person now. I am more balanced and relaxed,” FantAntonio told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“I would like to continue playing because, after my wife and children, football is my life. I have been training hard with the youth team, because I am still very enthusiastic. It’s the first time I’ve remained at my target weight even without playing for six months.
“I am convinced that I can still have fun and make the difference in Serie A.”
Cassano is one of the most naturally gifted players in Italian football, but by his own admission frittered away a career through tantrums, food, arguments and women.
“I had the chance to go to Juventus after Bari, but when I started playing, I really admired Totti. He was the best of them all and I could see some of myself in him. I was meant to be joining Juve, but once the offer from the Giallorossi came in, I told my agent we had to go to Roma.
“I went there only so that I could play alongside Totti. It’s impossible not to be his friend. He’s a humble, real down to earth guy. When I arrived in Rome, for the first four months I lived with his Mum and Dad, so I really felt at home in my new city.
“If I had listened to just 10 per cent of all the positive advice that Totti gave me, I’d have had a very different career. If I’d listened to Totti, I probably would’ve stayed at Roma for 10-15 years along with him. That’s the advice I really should’ve listened to…
“We had such fun together and just understood each other in a flash. I had more fun playing football with Totti than at any other point in my life.”
However, if there’s one constant in Cassano’s career, it is a notoriously short fuse when it comes to authority figures.
“It’s not true that I grabbed Gigi Del Neri. My biggest mistake was the year and a half at Real Madrid, because I did everything and more to ruin it. That’s a huge regret.
“My joy at the time was not having rules. I wanted to go home, as my mother wasn’t happy in Madrid. There was the opportunity to play for Juventus in Serie B, I turned them down for the second time and went to Sampdoria.
“Juve are like a beautiful woman, but can’t have me!”
The regrets don’t end there, as Cassano left Sampdoria under a storm cloud following his bitter row with then-President Riccardo Garrone.
“I was so happy at Samp and found the person in the world of football who was on a human level just the best: Riccardo Garrone. He was the father I wished I had. The row I had with him was the biggest regret of my personal life and I will never forgive myself for it. I am glad that, before he died, we cleared the air.”
There were spells at Milan and then Inter, a dream come true for Cassano that swiftly went sour.
“I have always been an Inter fan, so I pushed like crazy to move from Milan to Inter. It was a good season, nine or 10 goals, then that guru Walter Mazzarri turned up and wanted to act like he knew everything.
“At the start he said there were no problems with me, but as soon as he signed, he said I was the first who needed to go.”