He is called 'Il Gioiello di Bari Vecchia' or the Jewel of Old Bari. A professional football career that has spanned almost fifteen years and seven different football clubs, from Bari to Roma to Madrid then onto Sampdoria followed by Milan and Inter and finally Parma.
His early career list of transgressions makes Mario Balotelli look like a saint. He has the coinage of ‘Cassanata’ dedicated to him in Italian Football; the term invented by his former manager by Fabio Capello. Anyone doing something silly on a football pitch is doing a ‘Cassanata’. The man in question is obviously Antonio Cassano.
The Serie A Young Footballer of the year in 2001 and 2003, he has never come close to fulfilling his potential. A lack of maturity compounded by some hell-raising misdemeanors has led to a nomadic career in club football.
However, Italy has always loved its crazy geniuses and Cassano is no different. Blessed with terrific vision and wonderful technique, he has managed to play for six different clubs in Italy.
However troubled his early times were, the later years of his career has brought a relative maturity, at least in Cassano terms. Last week, he managed to score his 100th Serie A goal for Parma against Bologna, a wonderfully guided volley from a corner.
His best performances in an international tournament came in the 2012 Euros when Italy went all the way to the final before losing to an incredible performance from Spain.
With the FIFA 2014 World Cup draw landing Italy against Uruguay and England in a tough group, it is imperative for Italy to take someone like Cassano.
His partnership with Mario Balotelli was superb in 2012 and although he hasn’t played for the Azzurri in all of 2013, his fine form for Parma this season merits another chance on the biggest stage of them all.
Should Cesare Prandelli take the mercurial Cassano to Brazil with him next summer it will give the 31-year-old his first taste of World Cup action, having been overlooked in 2006 and 2010.
Not known as a prolific goalscorer, the diminutive forward has already notched six goals in just 14 appearances this season as Parma attempt to establish themselves in mid-table in Serie A.