Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio (born 9 July 1968) is an Italian football player who currently plays for Italian Serie C2 club Cisco Roma.
Biography and career
Paolo Di Canio was born in Rome, in the district of Quarticciolo.
He signed for Lazio, in 1985; here he remained until 1990, moving to another of Italy's biggest clubs, Juventus. He stayed there until 1993 and successive seasons saw him join first Napoli and then A.C. Milan. In 1996 he joined Celtic in Scotland, and his successful season in Glasgow (scoring 15 goals in 37 appearances) saw him make a move to the English Premiership as he joined Sheffield Wednesday. Whilst in Sheffield, Paolo was the club's leading goal scorer for the 1997-98 season with 14 goals and he became a favourite of the fans.
In England, Di Canio is famous for an incident on the pitch in 1998 where he pushed referee Paul Alcock to the ground after being sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal at Hillsborough. Claiming that Wednesday did not wish to support him after the incident, he went home to Italy and refused to return and thus forced Wednesday to try to offer him for sale at a lower-than-market figure. In January 1999, Di Canio signed for West Ham United and helped them to achieve a high league position (5th) and qualify for the UEFA Cup, albeit through the "back door" route of the Intertoto Cup. He was also the OPTA player of the season 1998-99. He scored the BBC Goal of the Season in 2000 with a volley against Wimbledon, which is still considered among the best goals in Premiership history. In this season he was also voted Hammer of the Year by the club's fans.
In 2001, he won the FIFA Fair Play award. The previous December, in a match against Everton, in a noteworthy display of sportsmanship, Di Canio shunned a goal scoring opportunity and caught the ball from a cross instead as the Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was lying injured on the ground after colliding heavily with another West Ham player. FIFA described the act as "a special act of good sportsmanship." He remained at West Ham until 2003 when, following a very public row with Manager Glenn Roeder and West Ham's relegation, he signed for Charlton Athletic.
Even though he had already signed an extension to his Charlton contract, in August 2004 he returned to his home team of Lazio taking a massive paycut in order to return to the economically stretched Roman team. Lazio fans were happy to have a Rome-bred Lazio supporter in the team again, something missing since the departure of Alessandro Nesta in 2002. He scored in the Rome derby, just as he had in 1989, leading the team to a 3-1 victory in January 2005. However the negative publicity that Di Canio generated for Lazio, including his intimate relationship with club's ultras and their increased influence thanks to his presence in the team, coupled with problems with some teammates and coaches, exasperated his already difficult relationship with, club president and majority shareholder, Claudio Lotito who decided not to renew his contract in the summer of 2006. He signed with Cisco Roma of Serie C2 on a free transfer.
Di Canio has been the center of much controversy throughout his career; pushing over referee Paul Alcock after being sent off for Sheffield Wednesday and more recently, for making Fascist salutes. After making a salute in a match against Juventus in December 2005, he was suspended for one game by the Italian Football Federation and fined 10,000 Euros. After criticism from politicians for his behavior, he stated that he would,"always salute as I did yesterday because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people." Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, stated that the salute "did not have any meaning" and described the player as 'an exhibitionist but a good lad'. His own team Lazio, distanced themselves from his actions, claiming that they rejected the "politicization" of football in anyway.
Di Canio initially refused to apologize for his actions and claimed that he did not intend to make a political statement. He insisted that he is free to communicate with his fans in whichever way he pleases, though the Italian constitution considers Fascist propaganda to be illegal. These events sparked a series of debates throughout the country, comparing the difference in the perception of the far right and left. Di Canio amended his earlier remarks and claimed that he is "a fascist, not a racist. The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don't want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred." He later denied ever having made that comment which was attributed to his lawyer.
Di Canio has a tattoo on his arm which reads "DVX", which is the Latin appellative used for former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Duce. He is also known to have been part of the Ultras fan group (Lazio's Irriducibili) in his youth and even traveled with the group to away matches.
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