During a farcical fortnight, the talented but flawed former Italy international came out of retirement only to then reverse his decision
At the end of the classic movie ‘A Bronx Tale’, the young protagonist Calogero ‘C’ Anello realises, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever.”
Antonio Cassano understands those life lessons more than most. The 35-year-old made a number of terrible choices during his career but none bigger than the decision to ignore the advice of Roma team-mate Francesco Totti and leave the capital club for Real Madrid in January 2006.
“He said to me, ‘Anto, remember, it’s better to earn less but to be happy than to go to some other part of the world and not be 100 per cent serene.’
“I had been seduced by Real’s offer,” Cassano admitted in an interview with the Corriere dello Sport in February.
“But, if I had listened to Francesco, I probably would have stayed with him at Roma for 10, 15 years.”
Instead, he lasted just 18 months in Spain, spending the majority of his time indulging in his two great loves: women and food.
“In Madrid, I had a friend who was a hotel waiter,” Cassano explained in his autobiography. “His job was to bring me three or four pastries after I had sex.
“He would bring the pastries 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 pastries.
“Sex and then food – a perfect night.”
It was not, however, the ideal pre-match meal and Cassano unsurprisingly did little other than infuriate his employers, who fined ‘Gordito’ (as he was nicknamed by the Spanish press) for every gram he put on.
The disciplinary action proved costly for Cassano but it did not act as a deterrent, with the forward never really looking fit to wear the Real shirt in any of his 19 La Liga appearances, which…