Lee Cattermole: I nearly quit Sunderland over Paolo Di Canio

Now restored midfield man is eager for derby win to give strugglers' season a late kick-start

The former Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole has admitted he twice came close to quitting the club in the summer because he had been frozen out by Paolo Di Canio.

Cattermole was stripped of the captaincy last season by Di Canio and told to find a new club when he questioned the abrasive nature of the Italian's management style. He turned to experienced figures in the game who told him to keep his head down and say nothing, but his days were still numbered.

The former England Under-21 midfielder was called upon by Di Canio in the disastrous 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion that was to prove the manager's final game in charge.

Cattermole clashed with the Italian at full-time as Di Canio pointed the finger at his players for the failure that had left them bottom of the Premier League. The following day, another row between the club's manager and his players merely emphasised how the relationship had disintegrated and Di Canio was sacked.

That justified Cattermole's decision to stay in the summer, but on the eve of another crucial clash with North-east rivals Newcastle and now restored to the first team, he said: "I was very close to leaving a couple of times. For whatever reason, it didn't happen. The way it was going, I would have left happily. I wasn't part of the manager's plans and that can happen in football.

"Yes, it was torturous, but I've always been quite confident and I've got a lot of experience of managers who have backed me. I didn't lose confidence over anything he did or the fact he didn't fancy me. I worked hard with the hope of getting a chance.

"Things happened in the summer and there were a lot of things I was disappointed with from the club in terms of the way I was treated. I understand that is football but there are ways of doing things. All you ever want is a bit of respect and [caretaker manager] Kevin Ball gave me that straight away.

"I am more mature now, 100 per cent. The summer was a massive learning curve for me. It is the first time I have not been wanted by a manager.

"I turned round and I was quite happy with how I dealt with it. I spoke to a lot of senior players who have been in the same situation. I listened and took advice. I kept my mouth shut. I kept my head down. The only thing I could affect was what happened if I got my chance. I kept training each day. A lot of the time I was running on my own."

Now Cattermole, restored to the centre of the Sunderland midfield by Ball and kept there by new manager Gus Poyet, knows the team – who have yet to win a Premier League game this season – must get something in Sunday's derby clash.

"I don't think the dressing room was ever split," he said. "I've been in dressing rooms where there have been cliques and little corners, but it wasn't like that here.

"Yes, it's been frustrating. I've been out of the picture but I've come back in and I'm enjoying my football again. I think I'm playing well, but as a team we're not playing great.

"We have chatted about the importance of the derby this morning. The manager has made it clear to everyone how important it is – as if people didn't already know. Come Sunday, when they arrive, they will certainly know.

"The last six months have been very hard to put it into words, you can't really do that. I'm happy now and I'm playing again.

"I've worked hard and I've come back from a serious knee injury. I always felt if I got a chance to come back in I'd have a good season. I'll do everything I can to help Sunderland get out of the position they are in."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor