Cassano retires, then changes his mind

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Antonio Cassano left Sampdoria in January, eight months after his last game

Antonio Cassano has come out of retirement – hours after telling his new Verona team-mates he was quitting.

The former Italy forward, 35, has not played a game in over a year and only signed for the newly promoted Serie A side eight days ago.

But reports that the former Roma and Real Madrid forward was homesick led to him telling his new side he was retiring, before his change of heart.

“This morning I had a moment of weakness,” he said on Tuesday.

“I had a meeting with (head coach) Fabio Pecchia and the others to say that I wanted to stop.

“I was yearning for my family but the club’s management has asked them to come and they gave me the strength to carry on.

“I want to rise to the challenge and have a crazy season.”

Cassano, whose last game was in May 2016, joined Verona last week after the club secured promotion back to Serie A. He and his family live in Genoa, which is about 300km (roughly 180 miles) away.

He started his career at his hometown club of Bari before rising to prominence at Roma where he scored 39 goals in 118 games. He then had an unsuccessful season at Real Madrid before spells at Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma. He scored 10 goals in 39 international appearances.

Cassano was diagnosed with a defect in his heart and underwent an operation in November 2011 which allowed him to continue his career.

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