Chelsea captain John Terry praises 'real nice guy' Paolo Di Canio

Sunderland have been criticised in some quarters over the appointment of the Italian

Chelsea captain John Terry has praised the character of Paolo Di Canio as the controversial Italian prepares to make his Sunderland management debut at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Di Canio's appointment as successor to Martin O'Neill has been the subject of much conjecture this week, with former foreign secretary David Miliband quitting as vice-chairman of Sunderland over the 44-year-old's past statements professing to be a "fascist but not a racist".

Di Canio on Wednesday insisted he does not support "the ideology of fascism" as he seeks to mastermind Sunderland's Barclays Premier League survival.

That quest begins against on Sunday against Chelsea.

"I can only speak highly of him (Di Canio)," Terry told the London Evening Standard.

"I played against him when he was at Charlton. His movement was fantastic and I found he was just a real nice guy on the pitch.

"I was only young at the time when I was playing against him when he was at West Ham and sides like that.

"He always spoke to me after games and said 'listen, maybe you should do this and do that' which was really nice at the time.

"A two-word sentence was enough and something I learned from.

"He always gave a battle. If there was a little tussle he'd get up and shake your hand after and that kind of thing.

"So very fair, very passionate, as we've seen with his character, and his ability was fantastic. He was a credit."

Terry, who was not asked directly about Di Canio's views, did not expect Sunderland to be fighting for their safety and anticipates the Italian's arrival to galvanise the Black Cats.

"It's going to be really tough," Terry added.

"A new manager has come in, a fantastic player he was as well. He's certainly going to have them up for it.

"You could see how well organised Swindon were over the short period of time he was there.

"He's told them 'tell your wives and your families it's going to be a lot of long days and hard work'. I think that's what they need.

"It's surprising to see them down there, when we've seen them fight for so many years.

"They'll certainly be fighting and coming here hoping to pick up something."

While Sunderland have been embroiled in off-field issues this week, Chelsea have performed well on it.

Terry has told his side to focus on securing a place in the Premier League's top four after moving on the verge of a second knockout semi-final in the space of four days.

After the Easter Monday defeat of Manchester United set up a Wembley FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City, last season's Champions League winners beat Rubin Kazan 3-1 in the Europa League quarter-final to take a commanding lead into next week's second leg in Moscow.

Terry was an unused substitute against United after featuring in the loss at Southampton fewer than 48 hours earlier when the Blues slipped to fourth in the Premier League.

He has now urged his troops to claim a third successive Stamford Bridge win on Sunday to consolidate their place in a Champions League qualifying spot.

"We must win and keep winning games in the league and really push," Terry said.

"Because that is what this club feeds off - the Champions League. We must be involved in that."

Defeat at St Mary's Stadium saw Chelsea slip back from third place, two points behind Tottenham, but with a game in-hand, while Arsenal are two points behind the Blues in fifth.

The London derby between Chelsea and Spurs has been rearranged due to a clash with the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday week and when it takes place it could now effectively be a play-off for third place and an automatic spot in the Champions League. The fourth-placed side will have to negotiate qualifying, with the fifth in the Europa League.

Terry may return to the bench for Chelsea's fourth game in nine days after conceding a penalty against Rubin Kazan.

Despite Fernando Torres' double, the away goal increases the anxiety as Chelsea bid to seal their last-four place in the Europa League next week in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, scene of their 2008 Champions League final penalty shootout defeat to Manchester United, when Terry missed a penalty.

Victor Moses, who scored Chelsea's second, told the club's official website: "It wasn't an easy game but I think 3-1 was a fair result and now we can look forward to the second leg.

"The most important thing is to win games, we've got quality players and hopefully we'll be good enough to win the competition."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis