Italy and AC Milan forward Antonio Cassano will be out for a "few months" and needs heart surgery after falling ill at the weekend, the Italian champions said in a statement today.
"The player will undergo a small surgical cardiological intervention in the coming days and the recovery time will be better defined after the surgery, but it will probably be a few months," the statement said.
The problem caused insufficient blood flow to the brain but no lasting brain damage has been detected.
The former Real Madrid striker fell ill after returning by air from Rome after Saturday's 3-2 win over AS Roma. The statement said he is already feeling much better after reports he initially had difficulty talking and moving.
His team mates unveiled a shirt bearing his name after scoring in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at BATE Borisov which helped take Milan into the Champions League last 16.
Cassano has had a colourful career but his early immaturities looked to have been ironed out when he joined Sampdoria from Real in 2007.
However, a verbal spat with the Samp president led to him being suspended last year and he joined Milan in January.
The 29-year-old became a key factor in their Serie A triumph in May and has also emerged as Italy's main forward under Cesare Prandelli as they easily qualified for Euro 2012.
Prandelli will now hope the skilful forward will recover in time for next June's finals in Poland and Ukraine.
Milan boast Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho among their forwards but may now be forced to recruit another striker in January should Cassano be ruled out for several months.
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