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?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
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

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power