PAOLO Di Canio made his first to the Stadium of Light as head coach only 48 hours ago, but says he found it an emotional experience.
And he told the Echo that he and his coaching staff will use that experience to inspire them when Sunderland go into tomorrow’s visit of Everton – the Italian’s first home game in charge of the club.
Di Canio has worked Trojan hours at the club since his arrival at the start of the month – often not leaving until close to midnight – as he gives his all to the task of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League.
But, perhaps a little bizarrely, not once in those long days has he headed the short distance from the Academy to the Stadium of Light.
That changed on Wednesday when he was given a guided tour of the ground and admitted he found himself feeling choked up by the visit.
“I only went there earlier this week for the first time,” he confirmed.
“I went there for about 30 minutes – just to make sure that we are not going to turn in the wrong direction when we arrive there on match day!
“But I have to say that it was a very good moment for me.
“It gave me and my staff an extra lift and a desire to work even more, because we appreciate the size and scale of this club.”
Di Canio was particularly affected by the memorabilia which adorns the marbled entrance to the Stadium of Light.
As well as the giant 1895 Thomas Hemy painting – the oldest football painting in the world – which features Sunderland against Aston Villa, there is also the iconic mac and trilby of !973 FA Cup winning manager Bob Stokoe and medals and shirts from the greatest eras in the club’s history.
The Italian confessed: “We have a great passion for this club already, but the stadium is amazing.
“And the history we saw in the front entrance gave us a good feeling – feelings of pride and passion.
“Then, to walk out on the football pitch itself and imagine it with more than 40,000 fans cheering was wonderful.
“It was emotional and I am looking forward to being there tomorrow.
“But the most important thing is that we have to perform as well as possible.
“We were great against Newcastle last week, but we know we won’t win three or four-nil every week.
“The game against Everton will be very, very tough and I will be happy on Saturday if we are involved in a game which is scrappy from beginning to end but we win by a deflected own goal in the 90th minute.
“All that counts at the moment is getting points on the board and if we do that, and it isn’t pretty, I don’t mind at this moment in time.
“We have to fight and look to put them under as much pressure as we can for as long as we possibly can.”