Passionate Paolo keeps cool over 'red-card tackle'


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The Independent Football

"Passion should never be lost from football," Paolo Di Canio said. "Passion is believing in something. You fight for something. It's a pure and genuine value."

Knowing the Italian's reputation, these are words you expect, as he prepares to contest the misconduct charge hanging over him from his third touchline dismissal of the season, for protesting "too aggressively" in a League Two match against Macclesfield nine days ago. What you do not expect is calm serenity, the kind with which he accepted Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup defeat against Leicester City after referee Darren Drysdale lected not to send off Paul Konchesky for a knee-high, studs-first challenge on Swindon's Simon Ferry in the closing minutes of the first half.

"It was a bad tackle, it should have been a red card and it would have been good for us because Paul is an experienced player," Di Canio said. "But it is not important any more, the game has finished."

Di Canio's response was no character transformation, though. More a show of empathy and respect. "Paul is a friend," he said. "We played together at Charlton. He is a good guy. I like the way he plays, he is tough, he is nasty – in the right way.

"My opinion is clear but I saw Paul just now and we talked about life and family things. We did not talk about the tackle. It is not important now."

More important for Di Canio was that "we played our football. That's what made me proud today."

More important still is a match tomorrow at second-placed Southend, with whom Swindon can draw level on points, and where Di Canio hopes a new signing, Lee Cox, a striker from Inverness, will give him the "physical presence" embodied by Jermaine Beckford, whose two goals ended Swindon's Cup run.

And, a week after he declared that Swindon would "win this league anyway, even if they send me off every game", it is hard to foresee any absence of passion. "It is my way," Di Canio said.