The Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has spoken for the first time about being banished from the club by former manager Paolo Di Canio and has claimed that the Italian tried to destroy him.
Bardsley was photographed lying down in a North-east casino surrounded by £50 notes last season and was immediately fined by Di Canio, who called the picture “disgusting” and told the player he would never be picked again.
The full-back was then suspended indefinitely from the club and the training ground when he sent a tweet after the opening-day defeat against Fulham which read, “Great opening day. Hahahhahaha hahahhaha!!!”
He was told to find another club but the sacking of Di Canio, orchestrated by players who said they could not work with him any more, has given Bardsley’s Sunderland career a dramatic turnaround.
The former Manchester United defender played in the Premier League derby win against Newcastle United, scored in the Capital One Cup victory over Southampton and then hit the winner against Manchester City in the league on Sunday.
Bardsley, however, has not forgotten the way he was treated by Di Canio. “You’ve got to be tough upstairs or this game will destroy you. A couple of people have tried that but not been successful,” he said.
“Any footballer has to do his talking on the pitch. There were a few situations I was involved in which were difficult for me and my family at the time. I thought at the time my Sunderland career was over but the manager [Gus Poyet] has come in, he’s given me a new lease of life and here we are talking about a 1-0 win over Manchester City. It’s mad.”