It’s no surprise Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as Sunderland manager has courted controversy. Some of the knee-jerk, jigsaw style journalism has of course been ridiculous. If some of Di Canio’s complex political views (so simplistically and erroneously portrayed as bordering on the neo-Nazi) are an impediment to being a football boss in England then why weren’t these issues raised when he was appointed by previous club Swindon Town?
That is another debate. Although one aspect of the reaction to Di Canio taking over from Martin O’Neill is true; It will surely be a roller coaster ride on Wearside.
On pure talent alone Di Canio was one of the most outrageously gifted players of his generation around the globe, yet he never won a single senior international cap for Italy. That was not just due to players such as Roberto Baggio or Ginafranco Zola in front of him in the No. 10 role for the Azzuri but because of a volatile temper that once saw him come to blows with manager Fabio Capello then walk out of Juventus.
Successive national managers didn’t feel they could trust him so Di Canio became surely the best player NEVER to play for Italy. He sought refuge in Britain and amazed with his skill and sometimes appalled with his antics at Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.
Many consider his goal of the season strike for the Hammers against Wimbledon in 1999 as the best ever to be seen in the Premier League.
But many Italians will argue he scored an ever better one when scoring a stunning solo effort for Napoli against AC Milan in 1994.
To get a better idea of the volatile nature of Di Canio as a player then just listen to his manager when at West Ham, Harry Redknapp, as he lifts the lid on the wild and wonderful world of Paolo Di Canio.