STEVE Harper hailed Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio’s appearance in his charity match at a packed St James’s Park last night.
One of the game’s biggest talking points was the appearance of Di Canio for the AC Milan Glorie team, who drew 0-0 with a Newcastle United XI.
Di Canio – whose every touch was booed by Newcastle fans – thrived on the pantomime villain role but was upended by former Magpies midfielder Joey Barton in the second half.
But the Italian – whose last appearance at St James’s was for April’s memorable 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby success, knee slides et al – shrugged off the clumsy tackle and finished the game.
“Huge credit to him (Di Canio),” said Harper. “One of the beneficiaries is the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, and Bobby would have loved that.
“He was a big fan of North East football.
“Paolo came here and played the whole game.
“It looked like he enjoyed every minute. He got his penalty, and got too close to Joey at one point. Huge credit to him. He certainly helped raise some money for those wonderful causes.”
A crowd of 50,793 raised money for North East-based charities – with the match decided in the visiting team’s favour by a penalty shootout after it ended goalless.