Controversy has always followed West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio throughout his football career, although on a 16th December 2000, one act won him the FIFA Fair play award.
Once recognised as a hot head and for pushing over referee Paul Alcock during his Sheffield Wednesday days, Di Canio, currently playing for West Ham, found himself up against Everton at Goodison Park.
During a break away with the game all tied at 1-1 Everton’s Number 1 at the time Paul Gerrard went down injured dislocating his knee. The ball crossed into Di Canio by Trevor Sinclair, in a single moment Di Canio stopped the game catching the ball and ensuring that Gerrard recieves treatment.
This act of fair play provoked a standing ovation from the home end at Goodison Park and has now gone down in the Premier League history.
FIFA described this act as a “Special act of good sportsmanship”.
Di Canio made 118 appearances for the Irons, scoring 47 goals, including the magic ‘scissor kick’ against Wimbledon. He also had spells in Scotland before finishing his playing career in his home city of Rome.
One thing is certain; Di Canio could be remembered as a maniac or a magician, but on this particular day won the respect of the football world.