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The AC Milan striker admitted how lucky he felt to be playing at Euro 2012, and also praised club patron Silvio Berlusconi's resolve in not selling Brazilian defender Thiago Silva

Italy forward Antonio Cassano was grateful for his first goal at Euro 2012 against the Republic of Ireland, after heart surgery in November last year threatened to rule him out of the tournament in the first place.

The opening of his account coincided with a 2-0 win for Italy over the Boys in Green which, combined with Spain's victory over Croatia, set up a quarter-final date for the Azzurri against England.

"When I was recovering, my first thoughts were to go back to living," Cassano told Sportmediaset.

"I've made three thousand sacrifices to be here, and my goal helping us to progress to the quarter-finals is a dream. Of course, when it's someone like [Andrea] Pirlo taking the corner, it's that much easier."

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6/1 Antonio Cassano is 6/1 to score first when Italy play England with William Hill
The 29-year-old then lauded AC Milan's decision to turn down Paris Saint-Germain's massive bid for club-mate Thiago Silva, who has established himself as one of the world's best defenders at San Siro.

"I'm happy Thiago [Silva] will be remaining at Milan next season," Cassano added. "It was an obvious act of love to the club by the president."

Silvio Berlusconi rejected a €47 million offer that would have seen the centre-back reunited with former Milan coach Leonardo at the Parisian side.

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