Wednesday A-Z: 4/26 - Di Canio
The more famous of the two Italians to grace Hillsborough during the Owls' Premier League days, Di Canio was one of, if not the, best players to pull on the blue and white stripes during our years amongst the elite.
Of course, a certain Mr Waddle and Mr Hirst amongst others will have something to say about that.
But there's no doubting that Paolo is many fans' favourite ever Wednesday player, certainly in the modern era he can be classed as a Wednesday legend.
For the right reasons, his skill, Italian determination and superb goals made him a big, big player at Hillsborough.
For the wrong reasons, he'll be remembered as a quality player, but whose temper got the better of him when he infamously pushed over referee Paul Alcock in the 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
Regardless of that, he'll always be remembered by Owls fans as a unique player whose talent it will be difficult not only to match, but to get anywhere close to from future players.
Paolo arrived at Wednesday in 1997 from Glasgow Celtic, with Regi Blinker going the other way as part of the deal.
As with Benito Carbone, it was seen as a big coup for Wednesday to bring a player of Di Canio's stature to South Yorkshire.
It didn't take long for him to make his mark, leading the Owls' goalscoring charts during his first season at the club and soon becoming a fans' favourite.
I'll always remember us signing him - as with Carbone I was still at school, a school which had mainly Leeds United, Barnsley and of course, Manchester United fans.
It was somewhat of a shock, then, to see my mates and others talking about Di Canio and how good a player he was for us to have signed.
I must admit, at the time I knew little about him, but the talk around school was making me look forward to the next Wednesday match a lot more than usual.
He lived up to the hype - I couldn't believe we'd signed a player like Di Canio at Hillsborough.
Just as the days of Waddle, Hirst and Sheridan were passing by, a new hero for Owls fans, a passionate Italian from Rome.
His passion on the pitch was unreal, and it was impossible not to get into the game when you had Paolo in your side.
Whilst Alan Hanson and the rest of the Match of the Day boys (those were the days) spoke highly of Henry, Pires and Ryan Giggs, they spoke of a similar nature about Di Canio - we had one of the best in the league, there's no doubt about it.
It was all going well until that infamous day against the Gunners in September 1998.
We won 1-0, and just for Lee Briscoe's sake - he scored a cracking winner that's often not remember because of the events that unfolded before.
Paolo was shown red by referee Alcock, and in a moment of madness he pushed the man in the black, rather comically I might add, to the floor.
It wasn't going to be good, for that season and for Di Canio's career as a Wednesdayite.
He got an eleven match ban but things got worse when it got closer to his return around the Christmas period.
There was talk of Di Canio moving on, no thanks to a lack of support from the club during his suspension.
As Manchester United stuck with Eric Cantona through his spell on the sidelines, it seemed that Wednesday, and boss Danny Wilson, were not doing the same.
Indeed, in Di Canio's autobiography he reveals he wasn't a fan of him, and was a reason for his departure.
I was devastated then when Paolo was moved on to West Ham United in 1999 for £1.7m.
£1.7m, it must have been one of the Hammers' best ever signings.
I know they certainly loved him as much as us.
I often think where we'd be if Paolo hadn't done what he did, if he stayed longer than he did in S6.
It was a joy to watch him for West Ham, and he scored some cracking goals there, too.
He had another spell in England towards the end of his career at Charlton Athletic before then returning home to have one last say with his boyhood club Lazio and lower league side Cisco Roma.
Di Canio, a true Wednesday legend...
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