Happy Birthday Cassano, Verdi and Vieri!

Happy Birthday Cassano, Verdi and Vieri!

Antonio Cassano (36) was born in Bari on 12th July 1982. He spent his youth at the Bari academy and made his Serie A debut with the club from Apulia in 1999, aged 17. He then moved to AS Roma, where he remained for four-and-a-half seasons and won an Italian Super Cup in 2001. This long spell in the Italian capital was followed by an experience at Real Madrid, where he won the 2006-2007 Spanish La Liga. Cassano then came back to Italy to join Sampdoria in 2007 before moving to AC Milan in 2011 where he won a Serie A title and an Italian Super Cup. He then played for Inter, Parma, Sampdoria and Hellas Verona. 

Cassano made his debut for the senior national team in a friendly against Poland on 12th November 2003, aged 21. After handing him his debut, head coach Trapattoni included him in the squad that took part in the 2004 European Championship, where he scored twice during the group stage. Thanks to his consistently good performances at Sampdoria, Cassano was called up once again after being absent for over a year and made the squad for the 2008 EUROs under head coach Donadoni. Manager Prandelli kept Cassano in the Azzuri squad and he led Italy to qualifying for the 2012 European Championship with six goals during the qualifying stage. Cassano played an important role at the European tournament in Poland and Ukraine, where Italy finished as runners-up. He finally took part in his first ever World Cup in 2014, where he made an appearance against Uruguay. That match would be Cassano’s 39th and final cap. In terms of scoring, Cassano can boast a total of ten international goals.

Christian Vieri (45) was born in Bologna on 12th July 1973. Widely regarded as one of the best ever Italian strikers, he was nicknamed “Bobo” after his grandfather Bob, who played in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Vieri spent his youth at the Torino academy and made his Serie A debut with the club aged 18.

After spells at Pisa, Ravenna, Venezia and Atalanta, Vieri joined Juventus in 1996. Whilst there, he won a Serie A title, a UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and was a Champions League runner-up, losing to Borussia Dortmund in the final. He scored 14 goals in 37 appearances and moved to Atletico Madrid at the end of the season. He became La Liga’s top goalscorer with 24 goals in 24 appearances and remains the only Italian player to have won the Spanish Golden Boot. Nevertheless, nostalgia for Italy became too strong so Vieri moved back to his homeland to play for Lazio. He won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999 with the capital club. Vieri then moved to Inter in a record 90 billion lira deal (€45 million): He went very close to winning the 2001-2002 Serie A title and proved once again to be one of the best Italian goalscorers. During his five seasons at Inter, Vieri scored 123 goals in 190 appearances and won the 2004-2005 Coppa Italia.

After that long spell at Inter, Vieri moved to the city’s other club on 5th July 2005 and scored two goals in 14 matches. In the end, he remained at AC Milan for just six months before joining Monaco. He had a tough time in France as he suffered a severe injury that kept him out of the squad that triumphed at the 2006 World Cup.

Vieri concluded his career with spells at Atalanta and Fiorentina and retired in May 2009 at 36 years of age.

He was crucial in the triumph of Cesare Maldini’s Under-21 side at the 1994 European Championship and made his debut for the senior team in a match against Moldova on 29th March 1997, aged 23: He got to score Italy’s 1000th goal on his debut. Vieri made the squad for the 1997 France Tournament and the subsequent 1998 World Cup, where he scored five goals. He wasn’t part of the squad at EURO 2000 due to injury, but Bobo left his mark again at the 2002 World Cup with another four goals. He currently tops the list of Italian goalscorers at World Cup finals with nine goals along with Paolo Rossi and Roberto Baggio. His efforts, though, were not enough to see Italy past the last 16, where hosts South Korea knocked the Azzurri out. Vieri made the squad at EURO 2004 as well and won his last cap on 12th October 2005. It was oddly Moldova, the same opponent he started his Azzurri career with, who put an end to his Italy adventure. He also scored during that 49th and final appearance which left him with a total of 23 goals for the Azzurri.

Simone Verdi  (26) was born in Broni on 12th July 1992. He developed at AC Milan’s youth academy before moving to Torino on loan in the summer of 2011 and he made his debut in Serie A during the 2012/13 season, making four appearances for the Toro. He was then loaned to Juve Stabia and Empoli. He scored his first goal in the top flight for the Tuscan side on 7th December 2014 in a 2-2 draw away at Napoli. He currently plays for Bologna following a loan spell in Spain with Eibar before a return to Italy with Carpi. His senior debut for Italy was on 28th March 2017 as the Azzurri won 2-1 away against the Netherlands in a friendly.


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