Antonio Cassano: "Zidane's going to be a top coach"
The Italian was not mincing his words as he spoke to AS: "I didn't realise I was at the biggest club in history. Only an idiot can behave the way I did at Real."
Are you happy again at Sampdoria?
There are three clubs in my heart. First there's Sampdoria, then Inter Milan, because I've been a fan of them since I was little, and Parma, all the more so after the situation they went through. I've forgotten about the rest [laughs]. At Real Madrid I only played like three or four times! It was my own fault, of course, and also because some of the best players in the world and in history were there: Ronaldo, [Zinedine] Zidane, Raúl...
How did you find out that Madrid wanted to sign you?
I was out in the cold at Roma under [Luciano] Spalletti... And [agent Ernesto] Bronzetti called me and said: 'Antonio, do you want to go to the biggest club in history?' I said: 'Who do you mean?' He replied 'Real', and I said: 'F**k off, Ernesto...'. He came to my house and handed me Florentino [Pérez, the Madrid president] on the other end of the phone.
I couldn't say no to Madrid. A lot of people would pay to play there. It was the Madrid of the 'Galácticos'! Zidane, Figo, Raúl, Beckham, Guti, Roberto Carlos, Casillas…
Why weren't you a success there?
It was either Robinho or me on the pitch. I started well and got myself on the scoresheet, but when you go to Madrid you can do one of two things: be with your family and focus on your football, or go there and carry on like an idiot.
And what did you do?
The latter; but I still had a great time.
Do you reget not making the most of such an opportunity?
Yes, I do; it's natural to feel that way. I didn't realise that I was at the biggest club in history. Only an idiot can behave the way I did at Real Madrid.
Who did you develop the best on-field understanding with?
I always tell my team-mates that I've played with two of the five best players of all time: Zizou and Ronie, 'Il Fenomeno'. But I also think that if he'd kept his head firmly in the right place and been the consummate pro, Guti could have been one of the best players ever.
A lot of people say that.
Guti had bags of quality. Bags of it! He was on another planet.
I take my hat off to him, both as a player and as a guy. The way he trained! He never spoke, but listen: in a year and a half he opened his mouth three times, and when he did everybody stopped and listened to him without saying a single word.
He didn't speak often...
He trained flat out, flat out. Always. And he always looked for the team to train flat out. He and Raúl were the two leaders, but in different ways. One spoke as captain, and the other, Zizou, spoke when he had to and everyone listened.
Do you think he'll do well as a coach?
I think he's going to be a top coach. If Zizou says something, as a player you listen to him. Not many have the personality and the confidence that he does. He made history. If he tells a player to do something, who's going to tell him otherwise?
Who did better with the girls when you were at Madrid: David Beckham or you?
Me! David was perfect, but he also behaved himself [laughs]. I was the one who got up to mischief; he was married. All the girls were after David, but it wasn't possible because he was married and already had kids. I had a girlfriend when I arrived in Madrid, but within a month...
Food, sex and football. Is there anything else to life?
Perfect! That's the perfect life. Until 2 February 2008, eh? Then I met my wife. But until 2008, absolutely.
Have you been a sex addict?
Yes.... Yes. When you're 20 years old and you like girls, you have it in you to do it every day. And I had the chance to. I was Cassano, the Real Madrid player! If I'd had any other job, nobody would have looked at me, not even my mother [laughs]! I'm a nice guy, but I'm not a looker.
Did a night of crazy sex improve your on-field performance?
If it's Madrid we're talking, then no. I wasn't in the team, because I was 10 kilos overweight. It's as simple as that. I had my head elsewhere. But at Roma I reckon so...
And are you addicted to eating?
Yes... I still am. As a friend of mine says, when you eat nice things, you get fat.
How much did you weigh when you arrived at Real Madrid?
But how tall are you?
I'm 1.75m [5'9"]. My ideal weight is 83. I started this season at Sampdoria on 95 kilos...
At Madrid you had a reputation for your eating at the team hotel before matches...
I had a friend at the Mirasierra [hotel, where Real Madrid usually spent the night before home games until 2013], and at 10 o'clock he would bring whatever food I wanted to my room. I'd give him 200 or 500 euros. The pity was that he wasn't there when we played away.
Why did Fabio Capello, Real's coach at the time, banish you from the first team?
Everyone says it's because I imitated him, but it's not true. I had a fall-out with him at Xerez. We won 3-1 and he had me warming up for 45 minutes. Me and Ronaldo. I was raging. We almost came to blows. But he was right then, and he still is now. Capello got the best out of me. One season under him at Roma, I scored 23 goals. Why? Because he was always on top of me, hammering away at me.
Read the second part of our interview with Cassano here.
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