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SATO 2009 Serie A Awards: Best Team Player

Antonio Cassano of Sampdoria was the perfect team player this season and has earned the honor despite his often perceived negative public image.  Cassano known for his devilishy ill temper (as you can see from the picture) is often considered a man of brash antics. 

Cassano was suspended last March, his first season with Sampdoria,  five matches for throwing his jersey at a referee while leaving the pitch.  The year before that, Real Madrid continually fined the Italian forward for being overweight and then was forced to suspend the player for a verbal confrontation that went down in the locker room.  Obviously his time in Spain was short lived and after those occurrences he ended up happily back in Serie A.  So in other words, going into this year Cassano was not on many people’s Christmas card list.

The twenty-six year old had a breakthrough this season and put together some of the best statistics so far in his young career while avoiding any skirmishes with his own club.  Cassano led Sampdoria with twelve goals this year.  Even more impressive, the forward would have eleven assists which would rank as the second best total in the league.  Combined, Cassano would be responsible for twenty-three of the club’s forty nine goals this year and helped the club survive relegation. 

Without Cassano it is debatable how Sampdoria would have ended up.  The rest of the club only scored twenty-six goals this season that were not set up by their key player.  One addition that certainly did not hurt Cassano’s late season performance was transfer forward Giampaolo Pazzini.  The two connected many times in their short season together.