Antonio Cassano and Emiliano Viviano aren't teammates. They don't hail from the same town or even play the same position. What connects the two is their same sad destiny. OK, yeah, that may be too dramatic, I know. If you have played for the Italian national team a few times, if you are playing for one of the better teams in one of the best leagues in the world and, in Cassano's case, if you have clinched championships and lifted trophies, well ... your destiny most certainly isn't "sad."
But besides being footballers, these players are also fans. Last summer, both finally got a chance to play for the clubs they support -- Cassano for Inter, Viviano for Fiorentina. But this summer, both will be on their way to new clubs.
Cassano's love for Inter Milan might be questioned by some, due to his year with AC Milan, but it can't be denied that he dreamt about playing for his beloved nerazzurri. He finally got his chance in the 2012-13 season, scoring seven goals and adding nine assists. His average of 2.6 key passes per game was the fourth best in Serie A.
Despite fitness issues, Cassano regularly managed to work some of his magic, creating chances for his teammates. Of course, this being one of the worst Inter seasons of the past 15 years, the majority of those chances weren't converted. All the same, Cassano proved he's still able to make a valuable contribution to a squad.
So, why is Cassano being forced to leave Inter after just one season? Most likely because of his fitness issues, or more specifically, his lack of speed. The new nerazzurri coach, Walter Mazzarri, likes his teams to strike its opponents with swift counter attacks and he doesn't see Cassano as someone who would fit in that style of football.
Now Cassano has joined up with Parma, where he'll be properly appreciated by both club and supporters. There will continue the adventures of El Pibe de Bari, a player who looked destined to be one of best in the world, but never quite managed to develop his potential in full. His season at Inter was a bit like that, too -- he was very good, but in the end he didn't do what he came for: win trophies with the team that he truly considered his.
Viviano, on the other hand, was never going to rank among the top goalkeepers in the world -- but he had a smaller dream, namely, playing for his beloved viola. Unlike Cassano, who grew up far away from the city of Milan, Viviano was born in Florence, started his career at Fiorentina youth system and was always a huge Fiorentina supporter. Artemio Franchi's Curva Fiesole was his home on the weekends when Fiorentina was playing. He even named his daughter Viola. When he became part of Vincenzo Montella's team last summer, it was a dream come true for him.
Alas, the dream lasted just one season. Crucial mistakes, particularly the two goals conceded against Roma, cost him a place in the starting XI. But after fellow goalkeeper Neto also managed a few fumbles, Viviano regained the role of starting keeper for Fiorentina. Emiliano was more secure this time around, and if it were just a question of quality, he could probably stay at his beloved Fiorentina for another season. However, as he was loaned from Palermo, Fiorentina would have had to pay around €7m for the keeper, and in the end, the club couldn't justify the expense.
Viviano, to his credit, stated he was neither angry with Fiorentina for their decision, nor regrets joining the team last summer. What's next is uncertain. It seems the most realistic option might be joining up with AS Roma, who are looking for a new keeper after Maarten Stekelenburg left earlier this summer to join Fulham.