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Cassano on Tiki Taka: “I’m happy at Samp and want to end my career here. There’s nothing better”


Cassano on Tiki Taka: “I’m happy at Samp and want to end my career here. There’s nothing better”

If you want to understand Antonio Cassano, you have to start from his mistakes. It’s the only way to comprehend the character behind those talented feet, and the only way to truly realise how much of that talent has been frittered away over the years.

Who knows what Fantantonio could have achieved in football if his discipline had equalled his talent. Yet perhaps his mistakes are the reason we have been able to enjoy him for years here at Sampdoria, away from the headlines and the news bulletins. It may seem contradictory, but we are – in a way – indebted to his imperfections.

Appearing on Mediaset’s Tiki Taka on Tuesday evening, Cassano looked back on the good, the bad and the ugly of an unforgettable career: “The incident against Torino in 2008 was my biggest cassanata ever. Real got scared after seeing me chuck my shirt at the referee, so when Marotta went to negotiate with them they left me here. But it was here that I met my wife and had my kids. That’s the best thing in my life.”

You have played for Roma, Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, but you’ve found your best form wearing the Sampdoria jersey. Do you feel any disappointment at not having made the most of your chances at the top clubs in Europe?
“Let’s say I ruined it for myself. I’ve always been a layabout – I’ve never done anything to help me produce my best. But I’m OK with that. I’m happy. I love it here in Genoa and I want to end my career with Sampdoria.”

As an expert on football, who do you think are the favourites for the Scudetto?
“As a fan I hope Inter win it, but Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli is a mate and I would love for him to win the title. He’s the best Italian player around at the moment. Juventus have lost a lot of players from last year, but they’ve done a great job and I think they’re probably favourites for the Scudetto now.”

Who do you think is better, Dybala or Higuain?
“I think Higuain is the best centre forward in the world, alongside Luis Suarez. Cavani? There’s no comparison. On a technical level El Pipita is the best – he doesn’t just score goals either.”

What do you think about Samir Handanovic’s form? Is he Inter’s biggest asset?
“Handanovic is one of the best goalies around. Samir, the defence and the coach are Inter’s main strengths. That’s what’s making the difference for them – I wasn’t expecting them to be so high up the table. They need to find a player that plays for Icardi though. I’m a big fan of his, but right now they’re giving him one good ball every three matches. There’s been talk of Lavezzi but he’s a wide player like Perisic, Ljajic and Biabiany – they need someone like a Cassano behind him, the Cassano of four or five years ago. But Mancini is doing everything he can to bring the best out of the team.”

Is there a particular player you’d like to line up alongside again?
“Pirlo. He’d put the ball where you wanted it every single time. I’m lucky to have played alongside him for a spell. Totti? It was almost embarrassing to have such a fantastic player next to me. Francesco can still make his mark on Serie A. He taught me so much, including those wonderful no-look passes he does.”

In terms of the national team, it won’t be easy to win yourself a place but do you still harbour hope?
“It’s a one in a billion chance but I want to give it a go because Conte doesn’t shut the door to anyone. My attitude has changed in training too. I want to try but if I don’t make it I’ll cheer Italy on at the Euros from the outside. One thing I can’t see is Italy without Insigne. I really can’t imagine that.”

Your style of creative play is often seen as a negative in Italy, especially in young players. Why?
“Our problem is in our youth academies, not in the way football is organised in Italy. We’re afraid of burning youngsters out. In Germany, France and Spain it’s different.”

Coming back to Sampdoria, what happened against Carpi?
“We lost 2-1 on a frozen pitch. We could have won it but we made life difficult for ourselves by having the wrong attitude. Carpi kept running and fighting until the end so they deserved to win. We will try to give a good account of ourselves against Napoli. What’s the difference between Montella and Zenga? It’s like watching me play football and then watching you! For me, I don’t like having a really rigid coach, but if he’s too soft then I go to sleep. I’m never happy – I’ve realised that at the age of 33!”

Let’s finish up with a game. Say which you prefer from the following pairs…

Federer or Nadal?
“His majesty Roger Federer.”

Ferrero or Garrone?
“I love Ferrero, but Garrone is my president. He’ll stay in my heart forever. I loved him so much and what I did to him is the only thing I would change if I had my life again.”

Messi or Ronaldo?
“Messi – I named my son after him!”

Rossi or Lorenzo?

Ronaldo or Totti?
“Ronaldo is one of the best ever, but Totti is a step above as a team-mate.”

Michelle Hunziker or Belen Rodriguez?
“My wife! Otherwise she’ll chuck me out of the house and leave me in the cold.”

Fabio Capello or Eugenio Fascetti?
“Both are really important to me. One gave me my debut, the other helped me so much, even when I wasn’t in a good place. So both!”

Burrata or gorgonzola?
“Gongonzola with polenta is the best thing there is.”

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