Antonio Cassano set to retire in 2014
Italy striker Antonio Cassano has revealed he will retire from football in 2014.
Cassano has been crucial in helping the Azzurri secure a spot in next year’s European Championships, scoring twice in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Northern Ireland to take his tally to six goals in 10 qualifying games.
"I’ve been in the national team for 10 years but I’ve only got 25 caps," the AC Milan player told Rai Sport. "I’m always in and out (of the national team).
"I hope that from now until the World Cup I can have continuity in the national team and then I will stop.
"I want to do a good Euro 2012, a good World Cup and then I will retire. I will retire at 33 to enjoy my family.
"Football has been the most beautiful thing in the world for me but now I am a little tired.
"I want three more good years and then that’s it because if I continue beyond that, it will become a routine and routine stresses me."
Cassano, who helped Milan win the Scudetto last season, has thanked Italy coach Cesare Prandelli for saving his international career.
The 29-year-old was part of Italy’s Euro 2004 squad but was left out of the final roster for the World Cup two years later.
He was part of the Euro 2008 squad which lost to Spain in the quarter-finals and returned to the fold under Prandelli after a two-year absence.
"Sport gives you back what you put into it," Cassano said. "I didn’t put enough in, so I didn’t get much out.
"If (Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi) Buffon won 10 times as much as me, it’s because he was the absolute number one in his role. I was one of many.
"Prandelli has given me so much confidence and told me he believed in me. He has been very close to me at the time when I was struggling.
"He has also helped me to get off to a good start with Milan this season. We have a fantastic rapport, a special one, and I want to thank him for that."
Cassano believes Italy can do well at Euro 2012 if they play with the same determination which saw them concede just two goals in finishing the qualifying phase unbeaten.
"Now we have to keep this consistency and style in Euro 2012," he said. "I think we can continue like this and achieve great things."