Last week, after AC Milan's win over Roma, Antonio Cassano felt ill as the plane touched down back in Milan. The forward was experiencing blurred vision, difficulty speaking, trouble moving, and a host of other problems typically deemed "not good" for a footballer. His symptoms pointed to a stroke, and he remained in hospital, undergoing a barrage of tests, while the calcio community sent him messages of support.
Now, it's time to get out the get-well cards again: Cassano will undergo minor heart surgery to repair a slight perforation. The stroke-like symptoms were a result of an ischemic attack, brought on by the heart's inability to get all the necessary blood to his brain. The surgery should resolve this issue, but it will keep the Italian international out of commission for 3-6 months -- although more will be known about his recovery period after the surgery, which should occur later in the week.
Stroke, brain issues, heart problems. A player well known for his affection for cakes and nutella and other fine things in life. The jokes should abound, but it's near-impossible to crack them in this context. Fantantonio has had an impressive season, both for Milan and Italy. He's been an utter joy to watch, and realizing we won't be seeing him on the pitch for such a long time makes the heart ache a bit.