Addio Fantantonio: The 6 Finest Italian Footballers That By no means Had been After Antonio Cassano’s Retirement

“One of the best I ever performed with…” 

Any guesses who AS Roma and Azzurri icon Francesco Totti known as the ‘finest’ participant he’d ever performed with? 

No, it wasn’t Paolo Maldini. 

No, it wasn’t Alessandro Del Piero.

No, it wasn’t Gianluigi Buffon.

It was Antonio Cassano. 

Sure, the just lately retired (for the 300th time this 12 months) Cassano was named by Totti as THE finest participant he’d performed with throughout his storied profession. It is an accolade participant of Cassano’s pure means is greater than deserving of, however the final participant you’d’ve considered when requested the query: ‘who was one of the best participant Francesco Totti ever performed with?’

That’s the tragedy of ‘Fantantonio’. A participant with seemingly boundless means, which was satirically certain by his incapacity to chorus from being ‘problematic’. 

Right here we check out the best Italian footballing prodigies who, sadly, flattered to deceive. 

Gianfranco Zigoni

“With out girls, wine and pistols I might have been stronger than Pele.”

You’ve got in all probability by no means heard of him, however there was a time when a younger – in all probability drunk and carrying a white fur coat – Gianfranco Zigoni was thought-about to be “higher than Pele” (Jose Santamaria). 

Albeit, this ‘time’ was very fleeting. For each time ‘Zigogol’ would dazzle towards the mighty Actual Madrid or rating a hat trick on the San Siro, there have been three or 4 situations of full madness.

Identified to have walked across the streets of Rome capturing out the road lamps with a Colt-45 and held Hellas Verona chairman Saverio Garonzi at gunpoint in an effort to higher his contract on the membership, it is truthful to say Zigoni favored weapons greater than soccer; and that was his downside.  

Mario Balotelli

One of the few gamers on this record which will nonetheless have time to resurrect his profession. 

After rifling dwelling a brace within the Euro 2012 semi ultimate encounter with Germany, it was envisioned that, on the age of 28, Mario Balotelli would have scored 50 odd objectives for Gli Azzurri, been an everyday within the Ballon d’Or high three, and simply guided Italy to FIFA World Cup glory in Russia.

As a substitute, on the age of 28, Balo at present performs for OGC Good, has scored 14 objectives for Gli Azzurri, has by no means even been thought-about a candidate for Italian participant of the 12 months, by no means thoughts world participant of the 12 months…and reportedly now weighs over 100 kg. 

It is truthful to say that Balotelli’s profession hasn’t precisely gone to plan. 

Sebastian Giovinco 

2015: 23 objectives in 35 appearances. 

2016: 22 objectives in 37 appearances. 

2017: 20 objectives in 32 appearances.

2018: 17 objectives in 36 appearances. 

Primarily based on these spectacular stats, Sebastian Giovinco appears misplaced on this record, proper? 

Effectively, he would, if these objectives have been scored in a league aside from the MLS.

The ‘Atomic Ant’ has loved a fruitful spell at Toronto FC and has been rewarded with an Azzurri name up by Roberto Mancini just lately, however that is scant success for a participant extensively thought-about to be probably the most naturally gifted of his technology. 

Sadly, what has seemingly curtailed Giovinco’s profession development has been his top. Standing at a lowly 1.63m, Formica Atomica sadly by no means had the bodily presence to ever impose himself on video games on the highest degree. 

Though nonetheless enjoying, it is arduous to think about that the now 31-year-old Giovinco will get an opportunity to shine at a membership like Juventus ever once more. 

Giuseppe Rossi 

Lots of gamers on this record arguably solely have themselves to blames for not reaching their potential; Giuseppe Rossi just isn’t a kind of gamers.

In 2011 it appeared that Rossi had the world at his ft. Linked with mega cash strikes to each Juventus and Barcelona following an unimaginable marketing campaign at Villarreal – throughout which the ahead scored 32 objectives in all competitions –  and was set to be the star man for Gli Azzurri at Euro 2012.

Then, throughout a Copa del Rey assembly with Actual Madrid in October 2011, his proper knee gave approach.

Six months later, he injured the identical knee throughout rehab.

In January 2014, he re-injured the identical knee following a hefty problem from Leandro Rinaudo.

Eight months later – you guessed it – he re-injured the identical knee throughout a coaching session.

On account of this horrible run of accidents, Rossi has by no means been in a position to hit the heights he as soon as hit at Villarreal and Parma, and has thus – sadly – by no means turn into the participant he was seemingly destined to turn into: the best Italian ahead of the 21st century.

Gigi Meroni 

Undoubtedly the most tragic story on this record, is that of the ‘Italian George Finest’, Gigi Meroni. 

The ‘crimson butterfly’ was within the midst of re-invigorating a membership nonetheless in mourning of the Superga catastrophe, when he was tragically killed in a automobile accident following Torino’s Four-2 win over Sampdoria in Genoa.

Meroni had turn into each a footballing and cultural icon earlier than he handed away on the tender age of 24, incomes of the love of Italian soccer followers for his prodigious extensive play and his “free and eccentric spirit”.

Sadly, somewhat than being thought-about one of many biggest Italian footballers of all time, Meroni is yet one more tragic story within the historical past of I Granata.

Antonio Cassano 

“The day has come once I determine that it is actually over.” 

So it is ‘actually’ over. After flirting with retirement for the previous 18 months, evidently Antonio Cassano has lastly hung up his boots. Which means, it is time to reminisce on what Fantantonio was, what he wasn’t, and what we hoped he could be. 

What we hoped he’d be: The brand new Roberto Baggio.

What he was: ‘A problematic man’, in keeping with himself at the least. 

In line with calcio followers nevertheless, he was every thing we love, and hate, concerning the sport. At instances, Cassano was genuinely good. His marvel aim towards Inter on his Serie A debut, his partnership with Francesco Totti at AS Roma and – maybe most memorably – his guiding of Sampdoria to the UEFA Champions League, are all situations during which the trequartista proved simply how gifted he was. 

Nonetheless, when issues have been going nicely, a method or one other, Cassano would discover a technique to mess up. 

He threatened Sampdoria’s president Massimo Ferrero, provided to combat a referee, allegedly punched Marcello Lippi’s son or – my private favorite – informed Actual Madrid supervisor Fabio Capello that he was “a chunk of s***” who was “extra faux than Monopoly cash.” 

Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

The aforementioned moments of insanity are in all probability, above the wonderful objectives or assists, why calcio followers adore Cassano a lot. 

Cassano was flawed however genuine at a time when calcio was turning into more and more inundated with bland, media skilled, typically boring, footballers.

What he wasn’t: Regardless of his flaws, and the truth that he possibly did not obtain every thing he ought to’ve within the sport, a very powerful factor that Cassano wasn’t, was what he feared he would turn into: 

“I might have turn into a thief or worse; both approach, a delinquent. Lots of people that I do know have turn into concerned in that life…my expertise shone, and it took me away from a way forward for potential s***.”

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