PAOLO Di Canio says Sunderland fans cheering him at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was one of the best moments of his whole football career.
After a baptism of fire on and off the pitch in the wake of his appointment as Martin O’Neill’s successor, the Italian admitted he did not know what to expect from fans on matchday at Chelsea.
But he says he felt overwhelmed when all he heard was supportive sound coming from the away fans’ enclosure.
“Can I tell you that – and it is difficult sometimes for me to express how I feel – can I tell you that it was a very emotional moment for me?” he told the Echo.
“I tell always what I feel – and sometimes that provides a problem for me.
“But it was a very emotional moment for me.
“I did not follow too many articles in the papers last week, but I tried to make sure that I knew what was going and what was being said.
“And I understood that it might be that the fans were split over me and that made me very sad.
“But when I heard them singing my name before the game at Stamford Bridge, and especially afterwards when they were singing it again, I cannot tell you how much that meant to me.”
Di Canio said that having already pledged himself to Sunderland on his appointment, the backing of the fans has only made him more passionate to succeed at the Stadium of Light.
“In that moment, in the moment I heard them, it only increased my desire to do well for this club,” he said.
“I have a huge appetite for this job, for doing well at Sunderland, but hearing the fans, after the week we had had, has only made me more determined.
“Now I will sacrifice a part of my life for this club.
“I was always going to work hard for the club, for the board, but to have the fans behind me means so much to me.
“I know football is a business, but the support of the fans has only increased my inner motivation and for that I thank them.
“I have promised them 26 hours a day, but maybe now I have to make it 27!”