In an interview with Corriere dello Sport, Roma captain Francesco Totti shocked many by naming a somewhat controversial figure as his best teammate ever. The player Totti named was Antonio Cassano, the maverick who's appeared for seven different clubs in his career.
“Technically Cassano, Cassano, because we conversed with each other on the field and could find each other at any moment. I had a great rapport off the pitch with him too, so we were in total sync,” said Totti.
Totti wasn’t exaggerating when he talked about their chemistry. At times, it seemed like they were literally telepathic as they connected passes without even looking in each other’s direction.
Here are just a couple examples of their indescribable chemistry:
And although Totti is a one club man, he played with some other incredible players, including Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella. He went on to say that Cassano was “not just one of the best players in Italy, but in Europe, because in terms of talent alone he is a phenomenon.”
When Totti says he's a phenomenon, he isn't exaggerating. Just watch this goal he scored in the early stages of his career against Inter:
That's one of the best first touches the game has ever seen, and it only goes to show that Totti is spot on.
So how did the two players’ careers go in such drastically different directions? After spending roughly €30m in the summer of 2001 to bring him to Rome, he and Totti developed chemistry almost immediately. From 2001 to 2005 Cassano scored 49 goals for Roma, despite going through three managers and playing in a multitude of positions. During Cassano’s stay, Totti also scored 54 goals, and it looked as if the two had the world at their grasp.
That was until Cassano began speaking out and gaining weight. To his new Roma manager, Cassano said: "You're not coaching those useless players you had at Udinese. This isn't your house - it's my house.”
This proved to be the final straw for the Roma management, and Cassano was shipped out the next transfer window for a measly €5m to Real Madrid. Though he eventually turned in a respectable career, we will always wonder what could have been.