Antonio Cassano has admitted that he regrets not achieving more than "50%" of the football accolades that he has accrued throughout his playing career.
The striker, currently a free agent after his release by Sampdoria in January, spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia) about his achievements in the game and whether he would be able to retire fully knowing full well that he did not succeed in every aspect.
Cassano was touted as one of the best Italian players of his generation but, after a number of run-ins and clashes with coaches, club presidents and match officials failed to live to the hype - hype that the 34-year-old claims he will regret for the rest of his life.
He lamented: “I love football. It made me a man, it gave me popularity and wealth. I gave football goals and emotions, but I only did 50 percent of what I could have done.
“One thing I’d take back? Insulting (Italian film star) Riccardo Garrone. I’ll never forgive myself. I was able to apologise to him before he died, and that calmed me. But what I did still weigh heavily on me.”
Having turned out for a number of top Serie A clubs, including Roma and both Milan sides, Cassano has played alongside the best stars in Italy's top flight during his 18-year career.
Antonio Cassano: "The three best players in the world? Messi, Iniesta then me and Xavi." Haha.— Carlos (@RealCarlito_32)
April 27, 2017
Asked to reveal who his all-time starting lineup would be if given the chance to pick one, Cassano stated that he had a first-choice XI - in the formation 4-2-2-2 - in mind for years before going on to explain his choices.
He said: “I keep the national team in mind, so in goal, I’ll go for Gigi Buffon, a monument, the greatest of all time. Only the German, [Manuel] Neuer, can come close to him.
“I’ll play four in defence and on the right my ideal player is Cafu. He went up and down the wing and never stopped. On the left, I’ll have Roberto Carlos: devastating.
“In central defence, I’ll choose Sergio Ramos and [Alessandro] Nesta, so no-one will get past. Sandro was very good, but perhaps slightly inferior to Paolo Maldini, my real nightmare before matches. I wanted to play with him.
“The midfield is very attacking and has absolute quality. [Andrea] Pirlo and Guti in the middle. Pirlo is the genius, Guti gave a lot less than he was capable of, like me. Trust me in my judgement though, I know him well and he was truly world-class, he had the talent in his feet to win two Ballon d’Or.
“In front of Pirlo and Guti I’ve put another two footballing monsters: [Zinedine] Zidane and [Francesco] Totti. You just have to imagine the balls they’d give to the strikers. Who are the strikers? A pair made up of me and il Fenomeno of course. Ronaldo, like me, didn't have much desire to work but he was so strong that it didn’t make much difference on the pitch.”
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