Antonio Cassano

Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Former Italy international Antonio Cassano retires

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GENOA, Italy (AP) Former Italy international Antonio Cassano has announced his retirement after training for less than a week with Virtus Entella.

Cassano says in a statement: “The day has come where you decide that it’s really over. I have other priorities now.”

[ MORE: Hazard would play for Mourinho again ]

Entella, based near Cassano’s current home in Genoa, announced a week ago that Cassano would begin training with the club “without any contractual obligation.”

The 36-year-old Cassano last played for Sampdoria in May 2016. He signed with Hellas Verona before last season but left the club after two weeks, saying he missed his family.

Cassano scored 10 goals in 39 appearances for Italy. He was known almost as much for his passing wizardry and scoring abilities as for his temperamental behavior.

Cassano also played for Bari, his hometown club, and Roma, Real Madrid, Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma.

Entella is still waiting to learn which division it will play in this season. The club maintains it should be re-admitted to Serie B after Cesena was relegated because of false accounting.

Entella has played only one match in Serie C while awaiting the outcome of the legal fight.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

WATCH: Pitch invader leaps from wheelchair during USA v. Belgium

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The pitch-invader during the United States’ 2-1 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 found a clever way to put himself in position to get on the pitch – by using a wheelchair to gain himself a select spot to pounce onto the field of play.

The man, Mario Ferri, is a well-known pitch invader from Italy who bears a resemblance to Antonio Cassano, who, ironically enough, is a player Ferri ran onto a Serie A pitch earlier this year to support. Wearing a Superman tee shirt bearing Cassano’s name, Ferri ran onto the home side’s field during the Sampdoria-Napoli match to support the striker’s bid to make the Italian National Team.

On Tuesday, Ferri broke out the Superman tee again but this time with the hashtag “Save favelas children”, referring to Brazil’s impoverished neighborhoods, many of which were occupied and demolished by the government before this summer’s World Cup.

Italy 23-man World Cup roster announced

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Italy has announced the 23 players that will be on the plane to Brazil. The biggest surprise? Giuseppe Rossi is not included.

The Jersey-born forward made the decision to represent Italy, and would’ve gone to the 2010 World Cup had he not been injured. Now, injury keeps him from Brazil as well – Rossi was spectacular for new side Fiorentina in the first half of the season, but missed the second half, and looked a shadow of his former self when taking on Ireland on Saturday.

Roma forward Mattia Destro also didn’t make the cut, despite scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances. It’s a reminder that Cesare Prandelli places a heavy emphasis on team discipline, and Destro’s decision to punch Davide Astori during a league game probably didn’t sit well with the Italy coach.

Noted bad-boy Mario Balotelli did make the squad, however.

Also left behind are defenders Christian Maggio, Andrea Ranocchia* and Manuel Pasqual and Brazilian-born midfielder Romulo. Midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was ruled out with injury after breaking his leg during the Ireland match.

*Ranocchia will travel with the azzurripending fitness of Gabriel Paletta and Andrea Barzagli

Italy 2014 World Cup Squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St. Germain)

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma)

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris St. Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St. Germain)

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)

Antonio Cassano in form during Parma introduction

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At his point in his career, Parma seems like a good fit for Antonio Cassano. While there’s cause to thing he could still contribute at Inter or AC Milan (his last two stops), there’s little reason for either of those times to take on that risk when they’re capable of signing more reliable options. But Parma, a team that finished 10th in Serie A and could use a boost in attack? Acquiring a temperamental player who could get more out of Nicola Sanone and Jonathan Biabiany is worth the risk.

At Cassano’s introduction at the club last Thursday, the club were reminded what they’ve acquired, with the highlights of his public appearance with the club encompassing the confounding, often difficult, mostly entertaining personality that’s seen the only 30-year-old make six stops since leaving Bari in the summer of 2001.

On his arrival a Parma:

I’m not sure exactly where we’ll end up, but I’m sure that things will go extremely well. And it’s World Cup year. I hope that this is the last club I play for. I’m convinced we will achieve great things – this is a challenge that I’m convinced I’ll win. People said I was finished as a player following my time at Madrid, however, I’ve won.

More on his arrival, including some vintage third-person:

I’m not here to put my feet up and have a holiday! The more responsibility I’m given the better I react and the more I give. When I’m made to feel useless, then I create havoc! If I play as Cassano can play, then everyone will benefit.”

On Inter Milan’s new boss, Walter Mazzarri, and his departure from the Nerazzurri:

I’d like to thank Branca, Ausilio and Moratti. But not Mazzarri. Before agreeing to take over at the club he called me and told me that I’d be an automatic starter this season with him. Then, after he’d signed his contract, he said that I would be an automatic choice – but to be on the first bus home!

On his last coach, Andrea Stramaccioni:

Stramaccioni? Oh, I see – you want controversy…! Let’s just say I left a lot of friends (at Inter). I had a fantastic relationship with the players there. But I’ve no comment to make about the coach…

On his career and potential:

So far in my career I’ve only achieved 30-40% of what I could have achieved. I’ve played for great clubs, even Real Madrid. I’m always telling myself: ‘Had you done more, where would you have played? Perhaps the moon, on your own?’

Over the years, Cassano has given fans a number of reasons to turn their back on him, but amid a season to vapid quotes and vacuous insight, Il Gioiello’s blend of honestly and egotism is a nice change. He’s honestly, if self-involved. And that self-involvement, not uncommon to athletes at his level, is part of the reason he’s at Parma:

Making the World Cup squad will be my big motivation. If I play the way I can, everyone will reap the benefits

Antonio Cassano doesn’t do authority, Part 78: Italian star, head coach nearly come to blows

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Antonio Cassano got into a fight with Inter Milan head coach Andrea Stramaccioni. This is the kind of stuff he does.

The 30-year-old Italian international has had contentious departures from Roma, Real Madrid, and Sampdoria, and now he’s becoming a hornet’s nest for the Nerazzurri. It’s all part of the bargain.

According to reports out of Italy, Cassano and his Inter boss nearly came to blows after Friday’s training session. Midfielder Dejan Stankovic and team manager Ivan Cordoba separated the two before the confrontation climaxed.

The young head coach confirmed the news on Saturday, albeit in muted words:

There was no physical contact, it was just a discussion. It annoys me that it was reported outside the training ground, as these things should stay behind closed doors. Antonio is one of the players I have used the most.

He won’t be using him on Sunday. Stramaccioni confirmed he has decided to drop Cassano for the team’s trip to Catania. The playmaker will, however, be back in the team mid-week:

Cassano will be called up for the Europa League game with Tottenham next week. This is my decision and he is not being punished, nor frozen out. Fredy Guarin and Ricky Alvarez are crucial to cover the gaps at the moment.

For Stramaccioni, a 37-year-old in his first full year on the job, the dressing room confrontation was less noteworthy than the fact news of it got out:

Leaving Cassano out was my decision. It happened in the locker room and we shouldn’t make a big deal of it. Whoever leaked this story outside clearly does not want what’s best for Inter. The locker room is sacred.

Not sacred enough to avoid going after your coach, but as Stramaccioni initmated, this is not the first time a player and coach have almost come to blows.

And it’s not the first time Cassano’s famously bad temper has gotten the best of him. Inter knew what they were acquiring when they traded Giampaolo Pazzini to get him last summer.

No use excoriating either party. Not that Cassano doesn’t deserve some censure. It just won’t do any good.