The life and times (and conquests) of Bari bawler Cassano

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Antonio Cassano is known as a fantasista in Italian football parlance.

The player whose skill and all round game are so valued that he is allowed to roam free wherever he feels.

The term also means someone who embellishes his life with tall tales in order to make himself more interesting or exciting.

Well, Cassano has certainly been on a few flights of fantasy in his autobiography entitled “Vi Dico Tutto” (I’ll Tell You Everything).

“I’ve slept with between 600 and 700 women,” he boasts, although that's a pretty low figure going by the claims of most Italian males. “At least 20 of them have been involved in the world of show business.”

"Right then ladies, who's next?" 

Taking a leaf from one of George Best’s old bios, the pepperoni-faced chap goes on to reveal that he had it “away” - as he describes it - on the morning AS Roma played Juventus.

“I did it at six in the morning,” he somehow recalls. “We went on to win 4-0 and I played a blinder.”

It’s all written in football-speak which isn’t surprising from someone whose formal education was being sent out to the playground to kick a ball around.

However, it’s in Madrid that things begin to take a surreal turn and certainly Real Madrid should reconsider putting any new signings up in hotels from now on.

Room service, so to speak, was available on a 24-hour basis.

“It was so easy in Madrid to get women, they would be brought to my room and then afterwards I would be so hungry that one of the staff had to bring me at least four croissants and I would give him the girl.”

Has a man ever been so content with his lot? No wonder he had no time to play football.

Along with the romps, the Bari bawler is as bitter as an espresso without sugar and, a bit like his sex life, he can’t control himself.

"Oi Fabio... I've passed GO, now give me my 200" 

Fabio Capello: “At Madrid, he made me warm up for a whole half and then didn’t bring me on. I told him, you’re a piece of s**t and as fake as monopoly money.”

Luciano Spalletti: “Can’t you see your coaching a f**k’n star, not those useless [expletive] at Udinese. You’re in my house now.”

Francesco Totti: “We went on a talk show and he took 80 percent of the appearance and left me with 20.”

Gabriel Di Batistuta: “Stuck-up: he walked around as if he had a stink under his nose.”

And so it goes on. “I detested Italy U21 coach Claudio Gentile… I hadn’t a clue what [former short-lived Roma coach Luigi] Del Neri ever said plus he was a bit “ambiguous” (euphemism in Italy for homosexual).

Has he a good word for anyone? Well, Bari coach Eugenio Fascetti who gave the then 17-year-old his debut, dear mamma, of course, and his beloved hometown of Bari.

"80 percent?! Are you having a laugh..."  

Amongst all the headline-grabbing nonsense, there is one passage that cuts through to the core of how football shaped his subsequent life.

It’s 1999 and only his second game for Bari. The mighty Inter are in town and out of nowhere this scrawny kid goes on a mazy dribble which takes him past the likes of Laurent Blanc and Christian Panucci before sweeping the ball home for a last-minute winner.

“That was the moment that changed everything. If it had not been for that goal against Inter then I might have ended up a criminal.”

Some would say his subsequent career was a criminal waste so maybe we can forgive him for getting carried away now and then with other facets of his life.

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