Things to Know:
A creative forward, or fantasista, in Italian, who usually functioned as an assist provider in his teams, Cassano was capable of playing anywhere along or behind the front-line, on either flank or through the centre of the pitch; in addition to his usual role as a second striker, he was able to act as an advanced playmaker, and was also deployed as a main striker, as a false-9, or even as a winger on occasion. Cassano has been described as a player who was “skillful and intelligent on the ball” who possessed “excellent vision and also impresses with his eye for goal”. His best technical qualities were his trapping skills, control, dribbling, crossing ability and passing accuracy; although naturally right-footed, he can also strike well with both feet. In addition to his skills, touch and technique, Cassano also possessed considerable upper-body strength and balance, which aided him in defending the ball with his back to goal, and allowed him to retain possession in tight spaces, while his technical ability and acceleration enabled him to beat defenders in one on one situations, or when dribbling at speed. He was also effective from set-pieces. Despite his flair, ability and talent, throughout his career, Cassano was also criticsed for his behaviour and lack of discipline, both on and off the pitch, which often led him to pick up unnecessary cards; he was also condemned for his poor work-rate and lack of fitness throughout different intervals of his career, which led him to gain weight, and lose some of his speed, stamina, and agility. Although he was initially regarded as one of the most promising young players of his generation, even being described as Roberto Baggio’s heir, due to his inconsitency and unpredictabliity, many in the sport, including his former manager Fabio Capello, have argued that he did not live up to the potential he demonstrated in his youth, and that his personality affected his career.