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Cassano takes first step in remarkable comeback

AS Roma v AC Milan  - Serie A

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 29: Antonio Cassano of Milan in action during the Serie A match between AS Roma and AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico on October 29, 2011 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

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Antonio Cassano returned to the field today, albeit in a scrimmage against a Milan youth side. Neither of those details make the story any less heart-warming.

On Nov. 4, Cassano underwent heart surgery six days after falling ill after Milan’s win at Roma. After days of speculation as to whether the 29-year-old had suffered a stroke, heart attack, or something worse, it was announced Milan’s then-assists leader suffered ischemic cerebral damage resulting from a cardiac problem depriving blood to the brain.

As complicated as that sounds, it was good news. It was an identifiable problem, correctable, and though (at the time) it was dicey to speculate, his career wasn’t necessarily over. When stroke comes into play, you can’t help but assume a guy may not play again.

On Tuesday, Milan announced their medical staff had given Cassano an all-clear to resume his comeback. Today, he played 45 minutes.

It seems strange to talk like this about somebody who’s not even 30 years old, but hopefully there is a long-term view of Cassano’s comeback. If Juventus continues to close the gap on Milan at the top of Serie A, there will be a few who wonder whether the former Roma and Real Madrid-man can help.

Best we take our cues from the club, but if we have to wait until the summer to Cassano back in the senior team’s red and black, it won’t make the return any less meaningful.

Cassano Fact File

  • Started his career for hometown club Bari in 1999
  • Moved to Roma in 2001 for €30 million and joined Real Madrid in 2006
  • Joined Milan in January 2010 after three-plus seasons with Sampdoria
  • Has made 29 appearances for Italy, scoring nine goals

And here’s a very long video compilation with some strange music choices: