'It wasn't the fans': Paolo Di Canio admits regret over Sheffield Wednesday exit
26 Sep 1998: Paolo Di Canio of Sheffield Wednesday after he pushes referee Paul Alcock to the ground during the FA Carling Premiership match against Arsenal at Hillsborough in Sheffield, England. Sheffield won the game 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson /Allsport

'It wasn't the fans': Paolo Di Canio admits regret over Sheffield Wednesday exit

Paolo Di Canio has revealed that his spell at Sheffield Wednesday is the only one on which he looks back with regret.

Di Canio was a surprise guest at Hillsborough on Tuesday – almost 21 years after he left to join West Ham United in a cut-price £1.5 million deal.

His departure came at the end of an 11-game ban for pushing over the late former Premier League referee, Paul Alcock, in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Arsenal in September 1998.

The Italian – whose exit left a sour taste for some of the Sheffield Wednesday supporters by whom he was worshipped – went on to have successful playing spells at West Ham, Charlton, Lazio and Cisco Roma, before returning to England as a manager with Swindon Town and Sunderland.

And speaking to the Owls’ official Youtube channel, Di Canio said: “It’s the only place, unfortunately, I still have regrets in some way, because I left this place in a strange way – not in a normal way.


“I don’t want to say it was the (then) owner’s fault (or) my fault, but something happened in the life.

“I can understand, also, after many years some fans are still angry in some way and then I can respect it. But it’s obvious that what happened wasn’t against them.

“If there was something to remember it is only the relationship that I had in this city, not only at this stadium because I had a fantastic life. We (his family) still share these moments with our friends when we talk about our experience abroad from Italy.

“It was a fantastic season (1997-98). Unfortunately, in the end, it was not very good but in some way, I still have good memories.

“I hope – never say never-  that I can still meet a lot of them again in some way. But I’m never going to talk about them in a bad way because what they gave to me was amazing so I can only thank them forever.”

Di Canio – who arrived at Sheffield Wednesday via spells at Lazio, Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan and Celtic – scored 17 goals in 48 games for the Owls.

He finished as the club’s 14-goal top scorer in his only full season at Hillsborough.

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