© foto di Giuseppe Celeste/Image Sport
It was all Antonio Cassano. Stories, anecdotes, jokes and smiles from the Nerazzurri forward on today's broadcast of "Undici" on Mediaset Italia 2, conducted by Pierluigi Pardo.
In the studio with Evaristo Beccalossi and journalist Franco Ordine, it started with the present moment and a fact: we’re now seeing the best of Cassano with the Nerazzurri. "In terms of goal-scoring that's probably true, but I can still do better. How much so? I don’t want to say. I just know that I feel good, I'm turning in good performances and for me the important thing is to be happy. At the European Championship I was coming off of almost 6 months of inactivity. Now I’ve been working at the Pinetina for two months and I feel good."
Franco Ordine comes from Foggia, in Cassano’s home region of Puglia, and so he took advantage of the opportunity to speak with him a bit in dialect. Antonio then explained more about how he feels: "I need to feel important and at the Pinetina everyone makes me feel that way, all the way up to the top, meaning the president. I feel that everyone at the club has faith in me. It’s true that money is important to me, but thank heavens I've already set a bit aside, so it’s certainly not the only thing that matters."
The discussion turned to AC Milan and the more playing time Antonio Cassano might have had with the sale of Ibrahimovic: "Nobody said anything to me about that, but anyway now I'm glad because Inter was my dream. Are there any moments to remember with the Rossoneri? I won a Scudetto, I had a fantastic relationship with my team-mates and I still hear from Mauro Tassotti every two or three days. There’s also someone else who I don’t hear from, but that’s because I don't want to. Yepes is a friend, a special person to me."
By way of a video message came a special greeting from one of Cassano’s current team-mates. Yuto Nagatomo greeted "Antonio-san", who smiled and said: "I get on very well with him. He’s a great player and he’s always smiling, from morning to night."
But the message from the Japanese defender wasn’t the only thing to bring a smile out of the forward. Javier Zanetti and Andrea Stramaccioni (defined as "a phenomenon" by Antonio) wanted to get revenge for Cassano’s daily pranks. While watching the Nerazzurri coach and captain on video Cassano stated: "Football is happiness and serenity, regardless of the results that you get. Football is the greatest thing in the world."
And the greatest thing in the world must feel greater still considering that Fantantonio's start to the 2012/13 season is his best ever: "It’s just chance. I like getting assists much more than scoring goals. If I score them for my team it’s better but – I repeat – it doesn’t matter much. I’m still convinced that it’s better to set up a goal than to score one."
AC Milan, Inter and the best positions on the pitch. Speaking on these subjects Cassano came to discuss Diego Milito, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the derby: "Diego will finish top scorer. The few times that AC Milan let Ibra play were when he had me next to him... [smiling]. Jokes aside, he really liked playing alongside me and I was very happy. The derby is a different game. You can’t predict a result and there is no favourite. We’ll go all out for it. Are Inter stronger? We'll see at the end of the season who has done better, but I play for Inter so it’s normal that I see the Nerazzurri as the better team."
The question came up again and Cassano was asked who, between Inter and AC Milan, got the better deal in the exchange between him and Giampaolo Pazzini: "I hear from him often and I joke around with him, but there’s no need to make comparisons. He’s my friend and I’m convinced he’ll do well. We were both unhappy where we were and we chose the best teams possible."
A simple "no". This was the only reply that the Inter attacker gave when he was asked for a response to statements made this afternoon by AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani ("There’s no use. I prefer not to talk about Cassano. I don’t want to say anything."). He then gave his opinion on the Rossoneri’s recent departures: "I think the team has suffered more from Thiago Silva’s exit than from Ibrahimovic's because the defender was a reassuring presence for the group, providing cover and counter-attacks. You expected Ibrahimovic to score goals, but Thiago was much more important to our team."
After rattling off the names for his "all-time starting XI" with coach Fabio Capello ("the best I've ever had"), a video message from Marco Materazzi arrived for Cassano ("I've always told him everything and he knows how much I always pushed to have him at Inter"). The forward replied: "I can tell Matrix that he’s in my thoughts and I hope he can come back to live in Milan. Perugia might pose some problems for him… [smiling]."
He ended things in typical Cassano style, with a smile and with everyone in the studio under the spell of his one-man show. There was also a comment on the reality show that will showcase an overweight Ronaldo trying to lose weight. Antonio commented: "I’m still certain that when I finish playing football I’m going to get very fat."