The controversial forty-two year old Italian left many lasting memories on the British public during his playing career Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton. The memories come under the headings of the good, the bad and the ridiculous. The good included a wonder strike for West Ham against Wimbledon in 2000 that won him the goal of the season award. The bad included the infamous incident when he pushed over referee Paul Alcock when playing for Sheffield Wednesday and was given a ten game ban. The unusual, was when he caught the ball rather than scoring to allow injured Everton keeper Paul Gerrard to get treatment. That act won him the FIFA fair play award.
In his twenty-three year playing career, Di Canio played for six different Italian clubs, as well as those he played for in Britain, including Lazio, Juventus and Milan. In total, he scored one hundred and twenty-seven league goals in five hundred and thirty-two games.
Controversy does tend to follow Di Canio around. After he left England and returned to Lazio, he was photographed making a raised arm fascist salute to a group of Lazio fans on more than one occasion. After one of these incidents, Di Canio was banned for one game and fined seven thousand Euros. He responded by saying,
“I will always salute as I did because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people. I saluted my people with what for me is a sign of belonging to a group that holds true values, values of civility against the standardisation that this society imposes upon us.”
Di Canio is a proud fascist. He expresses admiration for Benito Mussolini, and has a tattoo on his bicep, of a nickname for the former fascist leader. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a major fascist movement in Swindon!
Di Canio was previously linked with the vacant manager’s role at West Ham but co-owner David Sullivan ruled out it out because of the Di Canio’s lack of managerial experience.
“The problem with Paolo is, although the fans would love it, I am being realistic and he has no experience whatsoever being a manager. If you look at first-season managers the failure rate is enormous.”
It is hard to disagree with Sullivan, but a manager has to start somewhere and maybe League Two is the place to do it. Di Canio has his UEFA professional license and has every right to take a manager’s job and forge a career for himself in that arena. Whether he adjust to the life of a League Two manager remains to be seen. One thing for sure is that Swindon’s County Ground is not the San Siro!
I have no doubt that the Swindon fans will be excited by this news and after the season they have had, nobody could begrudge them a bit of excitement. I hope for their sake that Di Canio is a success and manages to stay out of controversy.
I loved Di Canio the player. He was exciting, talented and unpredictable. I’m not so sure that I love Di Canio the person and I have great difficulty with some of his views. I fear that I will not love Di Canio the manager and that this may be a short lived arrangement. As I say, for the sake of the Swindon fans, I hope I’m wrong.
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