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Cassano can be our Ribery, says Toni

SoccerNews in European Championships, Serie A 27 May 2008

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Italy foward Luca Toni likened controversial striker Antonio Cassano to France star Franck Ribery during Italy's pre-Euro 2008 training camp near Florence on Monday.

Cassano has been included in the provisional 24-man squad named by Italy coach Roberto Donadoni for this week's training camp.

Donadoni must drop one name from his list by Wednesday and that is likely to be either Sampdoria's Cassano or veteran Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero, who finished top scorer in Serie A this season.

But Bayern Munich forward Toni, who finished top scorer in Germany as Bayern did the domestic double, believes Cassano has a lot to offer the Italy squad and compared him to his club team-mate, winger Ribery.

“Franck is crazy but he's a great player,” said Toni. “Antonio is not so crazy but he can also be a match-winner.

“These are players with different positions on the pitch but are similar in the way they can decide a match.”

Cassano, though, has been oft criticised for his frequent bouts of madness and tantrums that often land him in hot water with authorities.

This season he copped a five-game ban after throwing his shirt at a referee who sent him off, as well as insulting and threatening the same official.

His antics have become so notorious that the Italian press invented a word: cassanata – to describe such antics.

“Antonio's not stupid. He sometimes does a cassanata but he knows full well how he should behave,” added Toni.

For his part, Toni celebrated his 31st birthday on Monday and said his ideal present would be victory at the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland next month.

That would be an incredible way for the striker to continue this part of his career.

Toni was not even capped until he was 27 and only five years ago he was playing in Serie B.

But his career has since taken off and after two seasons at Fiorentina, during which time he won the World Cup with Italy, he has now also enjoyed a stunning debut season in Germany and could achieve even more in June.

“As a present I would like to win the Euros. If you'd have told me five years ago that I would be celebrating this as a world champion and on the brink of heading to the Euros I would have said you were mad,” he joked.

“However, now we stand on the brink of making history because adding victory in the Euros to the World Cup triumph would be truly historical.”

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