Sportsdesk | April 1, 2013
With Paolo Di Canio appointed as new Sunderland head coach, Thomas Woods looks back at five memorable moments from the controversial Italian’s football career.
Celtic – Old Firm
Di Canio had one eventful season at Scottish side Celtic. He claimed he joined them after being captivated by their green and white hooped kit while playing the table-top game Subbuteo as a child. He was also caught on camera threatening to break the legs of Rangers midfielder Ian Ferguson in an Old Firm game. Later, he went on strike and left Scotland.
Sheff Weds – pushes ref over
Perhaps Di Canio’s most infamous moment came playing for Sheffield Wednesday, then a Premier League side, in 1998. Di Canio reacted to a red card from referee Paul Alcock by pushing the official to the ground. He was banned for 11 matches and fined.
West Ham – fair play
In 2001, Di Canio won a Fifa Fair Play Award for his actions in a Premier League game at Everton. The Italian caught a cross which he could have headed into an empty net in the dying minutes of a vital game, as Everton’s keeper was lying on the ground outside the area, having badly twisted his knee.
Lazio – facist salute
Di Canio, a self-proclaimed facist, was fined and banned in 2005 for doing a facist salute towards his own Lazio fans during a game against Livorno, a left-wing club. Lazio’s right-wing fans had held up a swastika during the match. Di Canio defended the salute, calls himself “facist not racist” and is a documented admirer of the fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Swindon Town – player bust-up
Seven games into his career at Swindon, in August 2011, he had a fight on the side of the pitch with his own player, Leon Clarke, in front of TV cameras who was then told he would never play for the club again. After he resigned from the club two months ago, he reportedly returned to the County Ground in the dead of night and broke into his old office to remove photographs from his fruitful spell at the club.