The former Italy forward Antonio Cassano has sensationally "un-retired" from football a few hours after telling his Verona team-mates that he was missing his family too much and wanted to quit the game.
The former Italy international joined Verona only eight days ago and made the decision to leave the club and retire from football early on Tuesday. However, in the afternoon the 35-year-old held a press conference to tell the media that he had reconsidered and was now looking forward to “having a fun season” with his new club.
“This morning I had a moment of weakness, a ‘fall’, but then I thought about it again. If I had decided to go through with this gut-feeling it would have been a catastrophic choice and I’ve gone with my gut-feeling too many times in my career.
“I had a sudden feeling of missing my family and I got too emotional. But now I want to have a fantastic season. I’ve already lost seven kilos and I am fully motivated. Don’t be irritated by all this, in two games’ time we will forget all about this.”
Verona, meanwhile, have promised that they will ensure that his family move closer to him.
Cassano started his professional career at Bari in 1999 and played for, among others, Roma, Real Madrid, Milan and Internazionale. One of the most talented players of his generation, he has won 39 caps for Italy but missed the World Cup triumph in 2006 after a poor season with Real. In 2011, he had minor surgery to repair an atrial septal defect in his heart and returned to playing a few months later.
Cassano started only 19 league games for Real Madrid and was sent out on loan to Sampdoria for the 2007-08 season. He then joined Sampdoria on a permanent deal and played some of the best football of his career there. He returned to the club in 2015 for another season and a half.
He had already played in two friendlies for Verona, impressing in both, before Tuesday’s series of events. Verona will now hope he can form a productive partnership up front with Giampaolo Pazzini, whom he played with at Sampdoria.