By Chris Wright
Perhaps surprisingly, Antonio Cassano has never played a single minute of World Cup football, with his inclusion in Italy’s 2014 squad being the Parma striker’s first ever call-up to an Azzurri World Cup squad.
Now aged 31, Cassano has admitted that he thought his chance to appear at a World Cup had passed, but thanks to a serious show of dedication he was able to persuade coach Cesare Prandelli that he was worth taking to Brazil – largely due to him scoring 12 goals and dropping 10kg over the course of the 2013/14 season.
As a reward for his efforts, Cassano duly made the final cut of the Italy squad over the weekend as a bit of a wild card at the expense of Giuseppe Rossi.
“I would be the happiest man in the world if [I played in Brazil],” Cassano admitted to the Guardian before revealing the secret to his success.
“I’m on a diet. I’ve stopped eating focaccia, except for once a week.”
Good on him.
Italy’s World Cup squad in full…
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (PSG).
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 (PSG), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (PSG).
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).