Former Italy star Antonio Cassano announces retirement... again

Antonio Cassano in action during a charity match earlier this year. Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Antonio Cassano has announced his retirement from playing for the second time, only five days after he had begun training with third-tier club Virtus Entella.

Ex-Italy international forward Cassano, whose club career included spells with AC and Inter Milan and Real Madrid, last played competitively for Sampdoria in 2016.

The 36-year-old, who trained with Verona last summer -- after which he declared he would retire -- said in a statement released via reporter Pierluigi Pardo: "Over the last few days of training, I realised that I no longer have the mentality to train consistently.

"In order to play football, you need passion and talent but above all determination, and at this moment I have other priorities.

"Now the second half of my life begins. I am curious and fired up to prove, first of all to myself, that I can do good things even without the help of my feet."

Cassano said he wanted "to thank all the friends and teammates I worked with over the years, the opponents, the coaches and directors (yes, even those I had arguments with)."

He added: "Above all I want to salute the fans, those on my side and in opposition, because without them football would not exist.

"Football has given me so much. It allowed me to meet magnificent people, great champions and common folk. It took me off the street, gave me a marvellous family and, above all, allowed me to have so much fun."