I have good memories of Chelsea, says Di Canio

HAPPY TIMES ... Paolo Di Canio celebrates winning the League Two title with Swindon.
HAPPY TIMES ... Paolo Di Canio celebrates winning the League Two title with Swindon.
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PAOLO Di Canio experienced both ecstasy and agony at Stamford Bridge.

In January 2002, the Italian forward was sent off during a 5-1 rout for West Ham.

Eight months later he savored his revenge, grabbing a dramatic late brace to reverse a 2-1 deficit in a 3-2 victory for the Hammers.

The playing career may now be mothballed, but Di Canio is relishing the prospect of resuming hostilities against Chelsea this weekend when he makes his Premier League return from the dug-out.

“As a manager, it’s my first time at the very top level away from home against Chelsea where obviously I have good memories,” he said.

“I scored there as a footballer, but that’s gone. I’m not a player, I’m a manager.

“I hope my players are going to score there and give us enough points to stay up.

“We are going to play on a big stage and the players will be motivated.

“It’s obvious we will give them extra motivation to try to get a very good result.

“I can’t wait for it and I expect the same desire from my players. But I’m sure they will do a good job.

“In the next few days, we will work so hard and prepare a strategy to get the best result at Chelsea.”

Di Canio’s managerial experience has been limited to Leagues One and Two with Swindon Town. He proved to be an overwhelming success before leaving the County Ground in February, leading the Robins to promotion from the bottom tier, and to the League One summit before tendering his resignation.

And although Di Canio has precious little time to re-model a Sunderland side who have slid to within a point of the relegation zone, he hopes he can enjoy similar success in his first taste of the top flight dug-out.

“It’s obvious it was a different league,” he added. “I came from abroad and even though I don’t speak perfect English, it means I delivered a good message to my players.

“We won and became the champions of League Two.

“I left the club when we were at the top of League One with the best attacking record and the best defensive record.

“I don’t want to mention the records, but they came from the hard job we did during the week. I want to do exactly the same here.

“The problem is I can’t build the team from the beginning, but that is not an excuse. I decided to come in here so I don’t have any excuse.

“We are going to do everything to get a result straight away at Chelsea, then Newcastle, then Everton and then the other games.

“I don’t want to look too far, but step by step we have to get enough results to keep this club in the league.

“And then we can talk about the future plans, but the priority is the Chelsea game now.”