Sunderland firms offer free food and dry-cleaning for grass-stained Di Canio

Owner of the Ashbrooke pub, Richard Cooney and Mamma Italia Restaurant manager, Alex Bennelli with their offer of free food for life to Paolo Di Canio for the Derby Day result.

Owner of the Ashbrooke pub, Richard Cooney and Mamma Italia Restaurant manager, Alex Bennelli with their offer of free food for life to Paolo Di Canio for the Derby Day result.

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A FATHER and son have teamed up to make sure SAFC boss Paolo Di Canio looks sharp and feels good on Wearside.

The Black Cats head coach led his team to a historic win on Sunday, and his efforts have earned him great favour among the Cooney family.

SAFC season ticket holders Richard and son Leighton are determined the Italian livewire will be as comfortable as possible during his reign in the city.

Richard runs the Ashbrooke pub and oversees the adjacent Mamma Italia restaurant.

Along with restaurant manager Pascal Tammbarini, the 45-year-old is offering free meals to Di Canio, where he can fill his boots with Italian grub until his heart, and stomach, are content.

Richard, who has been a season ticket holder for the past 10 years, said: “It’s fantastic that he’s come along and spiced things up.

“I think we would have been doomed without him.

“At first, we thought about offering him free food if he kept us in the Premiership, but after Sunday’s derby, we’re just happy to offer him food for life.”

Richard’s son Leighton is also determined to become part of the Di Canio appreciation society. The 27-year-old, who runs dry cleaners The Ironing Basket, in Durham Road, has pledged to keep Di Canio’s suits mud free during his time at the Stadium of Light.

Leighton said: “When I saw pictures of his mud-stained suit after Sunday’s match, I decided that if dad could offer him free food, I could offer to clean his suits.

“As far as I’m concerned, he is exactly what Sunderland needed and is doing a great job.”