Posts Tagged ‘Sunderland’

What became of… Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery

Enduring memories

For those of us who watched the 1973 Cup Final, two images were forever etched in our memories that day.

The first was the Sunderland keeper’s heroic double save – from Leeds duo Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer – which denied the Yorkshire side an equalizer and, ultimately, the Cup.

The second was Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe, arms aloft and trilby on head, running onto the hallowed turf to embrace one player in particular.

In both cases it was the same man, Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery. But what became of him..?

Wearside Lad

Local boy Monty made his first-team debut for Sunderland in 1962 at the tender age of 17, in a League Cup tie against Walsall. Four months later came his league debut against Derby County in the old Second Division.

He went on to make 627 appearances for the Black Cats between 1962 and 1977, a club record.

Post-Sunderland

After Stokoe left the club Monty found himself loaned out to Southampton and then Birmingham City who signed him on a permanent deal. He made over 70 appearances for the Blues before being snapped up by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, as understudy to Peter Shilton.

While at Forest he won another major honour when they beat Hamburg in the 1980 European Cup Final. But this time Monty was an unused substitute.

Hangs up his Gloves

With his playing days over, Monty became a goalkeeping coach at two of his former clubs: Birmingham City and Sunderland, following a spell as the Black Cats youth team manager. He was also active in the Players’ Association, a forerunner of the PFA.

Monty then moved from coaching players to working at Sunderland as a club host on match-days, entertaining guests with stories from his playing days.

Then in February 2012 he was appointed as the club’s first ever ambassador. He said at the time: “To be given the honour of being Sunderland AFC’s first ever ambassador is fantastic.”

Today

Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery continues to be an integral part of Sunderland’s off-the-field activities. And his over 50 years of service to football – and in particular Sunderland AFC – has earned him a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Jimmy Montgomery

Montgomery has an appointment at the Palace

On hearing the news 71 year-old Monty said: “I am absolutely delighted…it’s a great honour to receive this award.”

When he goes to the Palace to pick up his medal, I wonder if Prince William (an Aston Villa fan) will pull Monty aside to ask about his wonderful double-save, 42 years on. After all the Prince can’t ask his grandmother, she wasn’t there that day. It was the Duke of Kent who presented the trophy.

@RichardBowdery

Going Right to the Wire!
1977: City and Liverpool Battle it out for the Title, Sunderland Fight the Drop

Richard Bowdery looks at the last time City and Liverpool were this close in a title race – oh, and it was touch and go at the bottom too!

You have to go back many years to find the last time Manchester City and Liverpool were neck and neck for the League title: 27 in fact.

And while City and Liverpool were vying for the League Champions crown, at the other end of the table ten clubs were battling it out to avoid relegation.

It was the 1976/77 season – Manchester United had appointed Dave Sexton as manager, after Tommy Docherty was sacked following his affair with the wife of the club’s physiotherapist. Don Revie announced his resignation as England manager after three years and headed to the Middle East to fill up his tank. And Wimbledon FC, that season’s Isthmian League champions, were elected to the Football League replacing Workington.

It was Liverpool who edged the title by a single point. Their 57 points from 42 games might not seem much today but remember this was in an era when only two points were awarded for a win.

Liverpool were going for the treble but stuttered in the FA Cup Final which they lost to Manchester United, 2-1.

Four days later order was restored when the Reds defeated West Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1, in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, to become only the second English side to lift the European Cup.

At the other end of the First Division the contenders for demotion had been whittled down to six. They were Bristol City, Coventry, Stoke City, Sunderland, Tottenham, and West Ham United.

Spurs were the first to fall through the trap door but a surprise 2-1 victory for Bristol City over Liverpool kept City’s hopes alive.

Stoke lost to Aston Villa by the only goal of the game to confirm their demotion leaving one vacancy to be filled.

Three teams, Bristol City, Coventry and Sunderland battled for the points to stay up in their last game of the season.

Hunter-BristolC77

Norman Hunter joined Bristol City from Leeds in October 1976 and helped keep them up

In a twist Bristol faced Coventry at the Sky Blues Highfield Road ground, while Sunderland travelled to Everton.

Conspiracy theorists must have had a field day, as the two teams drew 2-2. Though it didn’t matter as Sunderland went down 2-0 to Everton and so occupied the final berth on the ship sailing for Division Two.

The relegation battle that season had one of the closest finishes in the League’s history with five points separating the bottom ten teams. Nails must have been bitten to the quick.

So the parallels between 1976/77 and 2013/14 are eerily similar. Will Sunderland stay up? Will Manchester City get their revenge? All will be revealed over the coming week…

richard@bobbyfc.com

Man City: League Cup Winners
A barometer of English football’s changing face

by Richard D J J Bowdery

Yesterday (2 March) Manchester City won the League Cup for the third time in four final appearances when they beat Sunderland 3-1. But if you cast your mind back to 1970 you will notice a startling difference between the City team then and now.

All England…almost
On 7 March, 44 years ago, Manchester City took to the field at Wembley against West Bromwich Albion in the 10th League Cup Final.

City won that match 2-1 with goals scored by Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe; West Brom’s consolation came from Jeff Astle.

But it was City’s line up that day which proved the greatest contrast to the team that took to the lush turf of Wembley for yesterday’s final.

Back in 1970 the team that lined up for the kick-off comprised off 10 Englishmen and only one ‘Johnny’ foreigner, well Scottish actually so I guess that would make him ‘Jocky’ foreigner. Even the substitute (only one per team back then) and manager were English.

The eleven who lifted the cup that day, managed by Joe Mercer, were:

City70

Mike Doyle celebrates his equalising goal against West Brom in the 1970 League Cup final. Man City won 2 – 1 after extra time

Joe Corrigan (in goal)
Tony Book (c)
Arthur Mann (Scotland)
Mike Doyle
Tommy Booth
Alan Oakes
George Heslop
Colin Bell
Mike Summerbee
Francis Lee
Glyn Pardoe

Substitute:
Ian Bowyer

Interestingly there were four Scotsmen in West Brom’s side that day, with a Welshman as substitute.

Four years after their first win they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final. They could not match their heroics of 1970 and went down 2-1. Hibbitt scored for Wolves in the first half. City’s Bell drew the team’s level with a goal in the 59th minute. But John Richards sealed a Wolves victory, scoring the winner five minutes from time.

This time there were three ‘foreigners’ in an otherwise all England City side. Ron Saunders from Cheshire was City’s manager.

In 1976 Manchester City once again found themselves in the final, this time up against Newcastle United with Malcolm McDonald spearheading the Magpies attack.

City won 2-1, the same final score as their previous two appearances. A goal from number 7 Barnes and a wonderful overhead effort from Dennis Tueart in the second half, sealed the match, with Gowling getting Newcastle’s solitary reply.

Only two ‘foreigners’ made the starting eleven that day.

In the boardroom
During City’s League Cup appearances in the 70’s the predominately English boardroom reflected the team on the pitch.

Albert Alexander was the chairman as the sixties turned into the seventies. Around this time the board faced a power struggle, ignited by deputy-chairman Frank Johnson’s decision to sell most of his shareholding.

The tussle that followed convinced Johnson not to sell and the status quo resumed; that is until ill-health force Albert to relinquish the reins. His son Eric replaced him as chairman.

By the time City lost at Wembley to Wolves a new face lead the business side of the club: Peter Swales. This change was brought about by Eric’s decision to step-down.

Throughout the time of these League Cup appearances the City boardroom was largely English. But it was their lack of success on the pitch under Swales tenure as chairman which led to a revolt by the fans who wanted Swales out. They duly got their wish in 1994 when former City forward Francis Lee, self-made millionaire, purchased £3 million of shares. Swales was ousted, never to return.

In hindsight that revolt could be seen as the catalyst that took Manchester City from being a British run, predominantly English team to the club that now graces the Premiership.

By September 2008 the club was bought by Sheikh Mansour, who has pumped millions into Manchester City that has seen an upturn in the club’s fortunes.

Fast-forward to 2014
Today Manchester City has undergone a massive facelift and is, in many respects, unrecognisable from the club that last reached a Wembley League Cup Final.

Not only has it relocated from its spiritual home at Maine Road, the make-up of the boardroom, dugout and team is dominated by foreign imports.

In City’s starting eleven yesterday there was not one Englishman. The team City fielded was:

City2014

City players celebrate their Cup success, achieved with no English input

Pantilimon (in goal)
Zabaleta
Kolarov
Yaya Touré
Kompany
Demichelis
Nasri
Fernandinho
Agüero
Dzeko
Silva

Three of the six substitutes (only one allowed in the 70’s remember) were English but manager Manuel Pellegrini didn’t involve any of them in his three second half substituions.

Who benefits?
Is this good for the game? I guess it depends upon your point of view. I’m sure most City fans to a man would say it is, following their Premiership title, FA Cup win and now their third League Cup success. So, I suspect, would the fans of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

But those battling for Premiership survival without the millions to invest in top class players would probably disagree.

And if you are playing below the top tier of English football how can you get to the top table and stay there longer than the aperitif?

You could ask that cash-in-hand plasterer, Loadsamoney for a wad. Or find yourself a billionaire looking for a new toy to play with.

But what about the England national team. There is an argument that with so many foreign players plying their trade in the English game it hampers local talent.

Maybe, maybe not. Personally I don’t think England has ever fully recovered from the footballing lesson the Hungarians taught us at Wembley in November 1953.

Older readers may recall we were soundly beaten 6-3 even though Walter Winterbottom put out a decent side that day which included Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Alf Ramsey and Billy Wright.

The style of the Hungarians cultured play left those watching the game mesmerised.

Some say that was the day England’s dominance of the game crumbled, apart from the little matter of a tournament in 1966.

What is the solution?
I think it is too simplistic to say limit each club to a set number of foreign players. That in itself will not provide the skillful players England needs.

And don’t forget, the game is no longer about ‘bums on seats’. It’s about TV revenue, branding and global markets.

It is a world apart from the game that as it was in the 70’s.

A final thought…Just think, if Jesús Navas hadn’t scored in the 90th minute all of Manchester City’s four League Cup Final appearances would have finished with the same scoreline, 2-1.

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

Sunderland v Man City Preview
PLUS The Greatest Cup Final Upset: The Story of ’73

MANCHESTER CITY  3/10    DRAW  9/2    SUNDERLAND  9/1

The odds, unsurprisingly, heavily favour a City victory on Sunday. For some the question is not can they win but can Gus Poyet and his boys keep it respectable.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has his work cut out to stop a rampant Man City

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has his work cut out to stop a rampant Man City

That perhaps does The Black Cats a disservice. They’ve become a solid outfit under the Uruguayan and will make it tough in the early going. The key here could be an early goal. If City strike quickly it would be hard to see Sunderland getting back into it, and if they start to take risks as they chase the game the they could play into City’s hands and be picked off.

An upset would almost certainly have to mirror the performance of 41 years ago, namely; score first and be lucky!

A 1-0 scoreline in favour of the outsiders is a whopping 30/1.

If you think free-scoring City can match the record margin of victory (set last year by Swansea over Bradford) then you can get 25/1 on 5-0.

Good value can be found in a City comeback; with a HT/FT bet on Sunderland/Man City coming in at 20/1 whilst City to Come From Behind & Win is at 7/1.

Former City player Adam Johnson is 14/1 to open the scoring, while you can get 5/2 on Aguero, 3/1 on Negredo and 9/1 on Nasri.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: A man for the big game, we’ve gone for Yaya Toure to score first at 11/2.

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

SPORT Remember 2

The Greatest Shock of All: The Story of Sunderland in ’73

Leeds were an effective and efficient machine, battle-hardened and bold, under manager Don Revie they had won titles and cups domestically and competed with the best in European competition. A team with ten international players, they came to Wembley as the Cup holders, for their third Final in four years.

Sunderland were in the Second Division, and when their new manager Bob Stokoe took over during the season, they were languishing third from bottom.

No Second Division side had won the Cup for over 40 years and none of the experts – in fact hardly anyone outside of Sunderland – gave them anything but the faintest hope of winning. Yet, at Wembley, that all counted for nothing as Sunderland won by a single goal.

 Kick-Off

The game began in heavy rain and this seemed to have an affect on the favourites as it was the Leeds passes that went astray. Sunderland, with Horswill and Porterfield taking an early grip in midfield, were continually first to the ball. Even the great Billy Bremner, captain of Leeds, was hurried out of his stride.

As the game wore on though Leeds, prompted by the accurate passes of Giles, started to open up the Second Division side.

However Sunderland proved themselves to be no pushovers as the commanding figure of Watson at the heart of their defence thwarted the striking prowess of Jones, Clarke and Lorimer.

Leeds had to look elsewhere for inspiration. Despite pre-match predictions to the contrary, the skilful Gray would fail to cut Sunderland’s right flank to pieces. Kerr, the Sunderland skipper, was dropped back to snuff that threat out and Gray was eventually replaced by Yorath.

For all that, Leeds had their chances. Clarke had the best of them and Leeds might have been ahead before Sunderland scored but for another timely intervention from Watson.

article-1017230-01AA917A000004B0-460_468x308_popup

The underdogs celebrate their great victory

Sunderland looked for a pacey counter with ‘Triple H’. Hughes and Halom chased everything and behind them Horswill probed relentlessly, trying shots at every opportunity.

Sunderland were not behaving like underdogs, and on the half-hour they struck.

Leeds keeper David Harvey pushed a long shot from Kerr over the bar. From the resulting corner Hughes, with Halom and Watson in the box occupying the defenders, found Ian Porterfield.

The Scot was calmness personified as he killed the ball on his left thigh and swung to hit it powerfully home with his right foot.

Fightback

As you’d expect, Revie’s men fought back with a determined assault just before half-time and with continued to turn the screws through the second half.

In the 70th minute it seemed Leeds would at last get their reward.

A Paul Reaney cross was met by Trevor Cherry with a diving header across goal. The Sunderland keeper Jimmy Montgomery flew to reach it with his left hand and manged to palm it away – straight into the path of Peter Lorimer, who possessed one of the most powerful and accurate shots in the game.

Lorimer hit it fiercely towards what appeared to be the empty goalmouth – but, miraculously, Montgomery twisted, changed direction and diverted the ball on to the underside of the bar. It bounced to safety.

It was, more so than Porterfield’s goal, the moment of the match.

There were anxious moments for Sunderland as Montgomery made further saves from Bremner, Yorath and Cherry.  A penalty appeal was also waved away before Clarke was again denied when he might have scored.

But Sunderland held firm. In fact in the last minute they could have doubled their lead. Only a supreme effort from Harvey in the Leeds goal tipped away a Halom shot bound for the angle of bar and post.

1973 FA Cup: Sunderland Homecoming

Days after lifting the cup Sunderland fans pronounced Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United side “dead” with a mock coffin placed on the pitch during the Wearside club’s celebratory ‘homecoming’ at Roker Park.

The FA Cup Final
May 5th 1973, Wembley Stadium

Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United

Sunderland: Montgomery; Malone, Guthrie; Horswill, Watson, Pitt; Kerr (c), Hughes, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart
Sub not used: Young
Goal: Porterfield (31)

Leeds United: Harvey; Reaney, Cherry; Bremner, Madeley, Hunter; Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray (Yorath, 75)

Referee: Mr K Burns

Attendance: 100,000

Would Victory For Sunderland Over City Be A Bigger Upset Than ’73 Triumph Over Leeds?

Sunderland pulled off the greatest ever FA Cup Final shock when they beat Leeds United 1-0 in 1973. They have a chance to do the same in the League Cup Final at the weekend if they overcome Manchester City.

But would a triumph over the riches of Manchester City be a greater achievement for Sunderland than victory over Leeds in ’73…? Below BOBBY writers Rob Shepherd and Karl Hofer give the case for and against.

NO – says Rob Shepherd

It will take the spirit of ’73 for Sunderland to beat Manchester City in the Capital One Cup at Wembley on Sunday – but if Gus Poyet’s team do overcome City it won’t quite compare to Sunderland’s seismic success over Leeds back in 1973.

Even if the financial gap between Sunderland and City is bigger now than it was between The Rokerites (as the Blacks Cats were then) and Leeds 41 years ago – despite the fact the Wearsiders were in the second tier – it should not be underestimated how the chasm of class was perceived to be back then.

Don Revie’s side were at their swaggering peak even if on reflection they never accumulated as much silverware as they ought to have done.

City are evolving into a phenomenal force but as yet don’t have the all round strength and yes sometimes cynicism that Leeds had back then with players such as Norman Hunter, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer and Allan Clarke.

Despite a swashbuckling run to the final, including victory over Arsenal in the semis, second division Sunderland were given absolutely no chance.

But Bob Stokoes’s team produced a wonderfully defiant display characterised by an astonishing double save from Sunderland keeper Jim Mongomery to keep Leeds out.

And then the late Ian Porterfield, who went on to manage Chelsea, popped up to snatch a winner.

Memorably at the final whistle Manager Stokoe, clad in trench coat and donning a trilby hat, evaded a steward before dancing across the Wembley turf to embrace his heroes.

Bob Stokoe hugs goalkeeper Jim Montgomery after winning FA Cup Final 1973

Bob Stokoe hugs goalkeeper Jim Montgomery after winning FA Cup Final 1973

In context the win remains the greatest giant killing in an English cup final.

Of course last season Wigan, who would get relegated from the premier League days later, pulled off an unlikely win to hoist the FA Cup by beating City 1-0.

In that sense it shows City for all their financial power and pool of talent don’t have the aura that Leeds had back then.

That said, City’s attacking power may mean they overhaul the record score line for a league cup final (since becoming a one-off rather than two legged affair) which was achieved last season by Swansea when they beat Bradford 5-0.

A six-nil for City would not be a surprise but a win for relegation haunted Sunderland would not be a shock quite as high on the Richter scale as it was when the club beat the Mighty Leeds back in 1973.

 

YES – says Karl Hofer

The romance of Sunderland’s shock victory over Leeds in ’73 is the reason why we love cup football in this country. Don Revie’s Leeds side had matured in the conflicts of the First Division and European competition. They were no flamboyant Fancy-Dans who ‘didn’t like it up them’ and therefore could be rattled into submission. No, Leeds had the players for a battle all right, so a win would have to come through football and a fair bit of luck – which famously it did.

But times have changed. Back in ’73 Leeds may have had a side with ten internationals, but they were ten internationals from the British Isles. The side Sunderland face on Sunday is one where every player, including the ones sitting on the bench, are internationals, recruited as they were from around the globe at great expense.

That fact alone puts the task facing Sunderland into context.

OK, unlike the final of ’73 both teams are in the top flight, but the gap between City and Sunderland – or City and mostly anyone for that matter – is just gigantic.

Football, now more than ever, is dominated by money. City’s squad has an estimated value of £400m compared to the £90m value given to the Black Cats. An unusually busy season for arrivals at Sunderland (due in no small part to previous manager Paulo Di Canio) saw 21 new faces arrive at The Stadium of Light for nearly £30m – which is £4m less than City paid for Fernandinho alone.

So in economic terms the Sunderland squad is £310m worse than Manchester City’s squad. Even allowing for inflation you can’t say the same is true of the ’73 finalists.

Nasri, Alvaro Negredo, Sergio Aguero,

Alvaro Negredo, left, celebrates scoring with Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri. The three of them cost as much as the entire Sunderland squad.

It is that financial advantage which has boosted City’s firepower to the point that Pellegrini’s men are set to beat all goal scoring records for a single season.

Manchester City are also most people’s tip to go on and win the league, although Chelsea and Arsenal will have something to say about that of course. Back in the 72-73 season Leeds finished third in the table behind Liverpool and Arsenal but were beaten ten times in the league, something that will not happen to Manuel Pellegrini’s team this year, regardless of where they finish.

I expect a real battle on Sunday. The recent Arsenal game apart, when the players were no doubt concerned about missing the final through injury or suspension, Gus Poyet has added real steel to this Sunderland side. But lifting the trophy against this talent-laden tide of Sky Blue is surely beyond them, and few people outside Wearside will be bothering the bookies to say otherwise no matter how big a price Poyet’s men are given.

If the Black Cats do pull off the unthinkable on Sunday then rest assured their lineup will be nostalgically recalled in 40 years time by Sunderland fans with even greater reverence than Ian Porterfield’s teammates are nowadays – and that is despite the fact this is the League Cup and not the more heralded FA Cup.

 

League Cup Final – Sunderland v Manchester City, Sunday March 2nd, 2pm

 

The Shortest Reigns in Club Management + Who’s Next Up at Sunderland..?

RDM

Di Matteo would be a popular choice with Sunderland fans

from Rob Shepherd.

Gustavo Poyet has emerged as the new favourite to succeed Paolo Di Canio in the Sunderland hot seat. Poyet has moved ahead of former Chelsea team-mate and initial favourite Roberto Di Matteo.

Di Canio was sacked after a player revolt following a showdown meeting on Sunday in the wake of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at West Brom.

It hardly came as a shock given the constant rows Di Canio has had with his players since he took over towards the end of last season.

As predicted in a previous article in BOBBY (look for an archived piece in Now and Then) it was always going to be a roller coaster ride.

Initially the adrenalin rush Di Canio injected with his volatile, impassioned nature gave Sunderland the boost they wanted following the end of Martin O’Neill’s relatively short rein and the threat of relegation was averted.

But the start to this campaign has been disastrous and Di Canio’s power-crazed showboating style of management was destined to hit the buffers.

And when a manager loses control, the respect of the dressing room AND the faith of the fans it’s always going to be curtains.

And so Di Canio’s tenure becomes one of the shortest ever in English football. It lasted 175 days – although in effect it was less than that in the respect that it also spanned the close season.

But compared to the shortest reigns ever Di Canio lasted quite long.

Here BOBBY looks back at those managers who got the axe before getting their feet settled under the table.

FA Cup: Torquay United v Birmingham City

Rosenior: The ten minute man

Leroy Rosenior, lasted just 10 minutes in his second spell as Torquay boss. In may 2007 Rosenior signed on the dotted line. But the club was in the process of being taken over by a new consortium and 600 seconds later the former Fulham and West Ham striker was shown the door.

Back in the late Fifties Bill Lambton last only three days at Scunthorpe.

Dave Bassett lasted just four days at Crystal Palace in 1984 after leaving Wimbledon. The contract was signed but he didn’t like what he saw under Ron Noades so jumped ship and went back to the Dons.

Tommy Docherty was another of the shortest reigns in the top flight; he led QPR for four games in 1968 before resigning following a dispute with Rangers chairman Jim Gregory.

Paul Hart managed a bit better (but only just) at QPR being given the boot in January 2010 after  only 28 days in charge following a bust up with Adel Taarabat. Chairman Flavio Briatore intervened and sided with the player.

Les Reed was given only eight games in charge of Charlton before the axe fell.

henning-berg-blackburn-rovers

Henning never got going at Blackburn

More recently Henning Berg was reluctant to take charge of Blackburn last year and his fears were confirmed. After opting to to take the job he went after 57 days.

Colin Todd got the bullet as Derby boss in 2002 after 98 days.

But the brief reigns of two of the biggest managers of all time remain best remembered and were recently featured on BOBBY FC (This Was The Week).

The 44 days of Brian Clough and Jock Stein at Leeds are still the most remarkable.

The majority of the Leeds squad could not accept the manner in which Clough took over from Don Revie who had been given the job Clough really wanted in 1974 – that of the England manager.

Clough was in charge for just eight games over those 44 days before a players revolt – a bit like the one Di Canio suffered – brought his tenure to an end.

Stein resigned after only ten matches in 1978 to take charge of Scotland.

The Odds

Tony+Pulis+Stoke+City

Pulis has recent Premier League experience and could represent good value at 9/1

Victor Chandler offers these odds  to be the next Sunderland manager;

Poyet 1/3

McClaren 9/1

Pulis 9/1

Di Matteo 9/1

McCleish 16/1

Ince 25/1

Hoddle 50/1

Warnock 66/1

Redknapp 66/1

 

 

La Gola Vita!

Paolo-Di-Canio-managerIt’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.

Paolo Di Canio Volley vs. Wimbledon video

But many Italians will argue he scored an ever better one when scoring a stunning solo effort for Napoli against AC Milan in 1994.

Calcio -Paolo Di Canio Goal (Napoli – Milan 1-0) 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.

Harry Redknapp tells funny Paolo DiCanio stories