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Wednesday A-Z: 4/26 - Di Canio

Wednesday A-Z: 4/26 - Di Canio
How could we not follow up yesterday's C for Carbone with D for Di Canio, it just had to be...

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...

Date:Thursday June 24 2010
Time: 7:54AM


I really wish that somebody would get their head out of their backside and start talking about "legends" in the right way. For me legends are players that showed a real feeling for the club, a loyalty and a passion for Wednesday. Di Caneo was a great player with exceptional talent and he did some things with the ball that were great to watch, but a legend??? we paid 4.5 million for him and he gave up. He was deperate to leave, as we were struggling and he jumped into West Ham's arms as soon as he could. I think we lost over 2 million on him. I do believe that he developed a real feeling for them, something that he never had for Wednesday. Where did Deek Dooley go??? he was a proper Wednesday man, despit the fact that we dorve him to the opposition. Maybe someone called Ted Davidson who played 17 seasons in goal when we actually won the title. I can remeber Di Caneo playing, not the other two, but I would have liked to see a bit more thought going into the choice of "Legends",
24/06/2010 12:19:00
for me Di Canio was the opposite of Carbone. I rated this guy as a player and also as team member cos he was fully committed to the cause. Wednesday ditched this guy after the Alcock push and effectively forced him out of the club, absolute disgrace. Imagine Man U doing that with Cantona who in reality commited a far worse sin. We failed to back Di Canio and obviously he was disillusioned with us. I remember when Atkinson made him captain for a couple games and he looked the part with the added responsibility. A good signing for me and he was a legend
Hirsty's Shinpads
24/06/2010 13:56:00
If we can't call players like Di Canio legends then name some alternatives. He was a truely great player who always had the crowd buzzing when he had the ball at his feet. Wilson just didn't have the nous to manage top class players and that's why he left the club.
24/06/2010 14:41:00
So, a player has to have appeared for us in the last 20 year to qualify. Absolute rubbish. We lost 2 million on a player that pushes a ref (fair enough if he was a legend for comedy value) and gets banned or 11 matches. He was with us 2 seasons and he's a legend??? I estimate that he was ineligable to play for over 10% of his stay due to this one incident. Seems to me that you guys have a very strange sense of logic. He had temendous ability and was as entertaining as I have seen, but for me, more of a Prima Donna than a legend. I cannot believe that you are critcising Wednesday for "not backing him"-----bizarre. Seems to me that in your mind this supposed legend did'nt owe Wednesday anything for paying a big transefer fee (which no doubt resulted in a healthy signing fee) and paying him big money. In this day and age when players are crticised for the money and lifestyle they live, your logic makes absolutely no sense. I can only say that I wish Irvine had the money we lost on Di Canio to spend now!!!
24/06/2010 15:22:00
It's funny how different opinions can be. I agree with you this time dobby. D absolutely had to be Dooley not Di Canio. He broke goalscoring records, lost a leg playing for us and was sacked as manager on xmas eve. All Di Canio really did was push the ref over. I completely disagree with Hirstys s as it was carbone NOT Dicanio who was committed to the cause. Di Canios best work was done away from Hillsborough. Although i didn't like him if he was to be considered for the legends it had to be under a different letter from D cos that belongd to Dooley, surely.
Radon Barrier
24/06/2010 21:55:00
Seen from Di Canio's side: PDC's involvement in the initial incident that led up to the Allcock push was minimal. Jonk and Viera had the initial ruck and lots of people waded in. Di Canio was not the worst offender by far, but he got the red and felt aggrieved. Wednesday then suspended him BEFORE the FA verdict, which was PDC's beef - he obviously felt he had a case that the card was excessive. Shouldn't have pushed the ref, of course, but there are two sides to the incident. I also remain convinced to this day that Allcock could have stayed on his feet if he'd wanted to. As for the "should he/shouldn't he be a legend' argument, it's nonsensical and irrelevant: it's about how you feel about a player, not how many games the guy played or how long ago he turned out in the blue and white. If a twelve year old kid's hero is Lee Bullen, and he's never seen the old masters play, Lee's a legend to that kid. If Paolo gave you your best footballing memories, he's a legend to you.
Auckland Owl
25/06/2010 04:32:00
Ah so now we come to the crux of the matter. Indeed to be considered a legend they had to be playing when we atretd watching the owls. I really wish that had been made clear. If this is the criteria we use then most of mine are from the seventies and eighties. Terry Curran was a hero, but even I can't make a genuine argument for him being an all time legend. Sorry I misunderstood. Auckland - I am guessing that the journalist started watching the owls in the 90s hence the choice of legends. Why not change the title of this to A-Z of people the journalists have seen play, Or Our Heros Call me a what you will, but I am quite proud of our history and it goes back a hell of a lot longer than 20 years!
25/06/2010 09:35:00
the article does say "in the modern era he can be classed as a legend" and he was probably in the top 3 most skilfull players with had in the last 20 years, whether he is classed as a legend is down to personal opinion.
25/06/2010 11:27:00
radonbarrier, no carbone tried to hold the club to ransom for £28k a week when the going rate was £12k. he was really committed for the first season or so then he went seriously into himself. its only opinions but we have very different ones!
Hirsty's Shinpads
25/06/2010 12:37:00
fair enough hirsty, i think it was you I had a similar disagreement before when i said that francis started the rot by wasting money on rubbish players and selling good ones - lets not even mention the french bloke. I think the bigest draain on out resourecs were the 3 celtic guys. o donell, donelly and scott. Each on a mill a year for 3 years. Scott only played one game - that 3 mill per game. At least carbone and di canio played. Its good to have a difference of opinion, especially when i'm right!!!!!!
Radon Barrier
25/06/2010 14:09:00
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