Paolo Di Canio offered to quit Sunderland in middle of fascism furore


Paolo Di Canio tears an imaginary bit of paper. It is the contract he had signed to become head coach of Sunderland. Di Canio does lots of things with his hands in the course of a conversation to amplify his words. He is talking about the third day of his reign as manager of Sunderland and about the offer of resignation he gave to Ellis Short, the owner of the club.

"I told him, 'Tell me what I have to do. Bye Bye. No problem, because I do not want to be a problem for the club'," says Di Canio. "'If I don't represent a problem for you I am OK, I am ready to handle the pressure. It is no pressure for me. All day rubbish me, I don't care. It is my life, but if you think 'mmm, probably yeah, I let you be free', I don't want nothing and I go.'"

Short was unmoved by the intensity of those first three days, when the Italian finally had to release a statement saying he did not support the ideology of fascism.

Di Canio continues. "He said, 'Absolutely, you have to stay. You are our man.' That for me was enough. Refocus. I will never forget what he did. He gave me a big chance of my dream to become manager at the top level. Next year I hope I can be here. You never know what is going on in life.

"In this moment, he did not give up, he gave me 100 per cent, 200 per cent support. He convinced me to stay because he said you are our man. He is the owner, he picked me. I can't forget for the rest of my life, no matter what happens in the future."

Since Di Canio took charge, Sunderland have scored three goals in victory against Newcastle on two occasions, famously in the Premier League at St James' Park, less so in under-16 football at the Academy of Light. Short watched only one of those games, and it is revealing that it was the latter. He is a regular at junior level and wants more home-grown players to emerge.

The hedge-fund venture capitalist will have been in sole charge of Sunderland for four years later this month. He was first sounded out by the former chairman Niall Quinn at the Ryder Cup in 2006 about possibly investing. In 2008 he bought a 30 per cent stake from the Drumaville Consortium and a year later took control. Last year Quinn left citing business interests, but it is understood there was tension between the two men.

Now it is Short's club and every level of it is under scrutiny. Bryan "Pop" Robson and his scouting team left earlier this month. Roberto De Fanti, a Fifa-registered agent, has become key to a new policy in the transfer market and is likely to become the director of football in the summer – a position that Short believes will work better than the previous recruitment policy.

Following victory against Everton in April, Short drank at a bar in the city centre, before leaving a hefty tip after a curry. His profile is rising. Di Canio must give him a Premier League club with which to rebuild.

"I don't want to even think about relegation," adds Di Canio. "It was obvious when I came here it was because I thought I could keep this club up, so if we go down it means I've failed my mission.

"I was relegated at West Ham. I never imagined I would have a moment like that with so many talented players. I was devastated for everyone but some of the players did not care.

"Am I looking long-term? I'm looking at the next game but longer term I'm looking to change the mentality. If we go to Man United we go to win. If we lose three-nil that's OK? No! Otherwise you're never going to change. Even if we lose one-nil I want to scare them. I want to feel we're a good team with a positive mentality. Be careful, no. Do it! Not be careful!"

Sunderland v Southampton is today, kick-off 3pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London