- AC Milan's Antonio Cassano will undergo heart surgery
- The striker was taken ill after Saturday's 3-2 win over Roma
- The Italy international has been diagnosed with a heart condition
- Cassano, 29, will now face months on the sidelines
Italian football champions AC Milan have announced that Antonio Cassano will undergo heart surgery, after the striker was hospitalized following last weekend's 3-2 win against Roma.
The Italy international fell ill after Saturday's match at the Stadio Olimpico, with a statement from the seven-time European champions on Wednesday confirming the 29-year-old experienced "ischemic cerebral damage."
The condition was caused by a malformation in Cassano's heart, resulting in poor blood flow to the brain -- which can lead to possible vision, movement and speech restrictions.
Milan said he suffered no lasting neurological damage but will now face months on the sidelines.
"AC Milan, according to medical reports of the Policlinico in Milan, have said that Antonio Cassano has experienced ischemic cerebral damage," read the statement on the 18-time Serie A title winners' official website.
"The cause was identified as the presence of a patent foramen ovale septal heart, detectable only with sophisticated specialized investigations. The timing of therapy established has allowed a rapid recovery and improvement of clinical conditions.
"In the coming days the player will undergo a small surgical interventional cardiology (closure of the foramen ovale). The recovery time for return to playing will be better defined after the surgery, but probably will be a few months."
In Cassano's absence, the Rossoneri ensured their progression into the last 16 of the European Champions League on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw at BATE Borisov of Belarus.
Ghana midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng revealed a shirt with Cassano's name and number on it after striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Massimiliano Allegri's side a first-half lead.
Midfielder Renan Bressan later equalized for BATE from the penalty spot, but a point was enough to ensure Milan's place in the knockout stages.
An often controversial figure, Cassano began his career with hometown club Bari before making a big-money move to Roma as a teenager in 2001. After five years in the Italian capital he switched to Spain with nine-time European champions Real Madrid.
Following an unhappy spell ruined by injury and a falling-out with coach Fabio Capello, Cassano returned home to Sampdoria in 2008 after a season's loan before joining Milan in January this year -- a move prompted by another dispute, this time with the Genoa side's chairman Riccardo Garrone.
He will be hoping to recover in time to be part of Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad for next year's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, which starts in June 2012.