'Everyone said sack him' - Danny Graham opens up about his second Sunderland spell and life under Paolo Di Canio

Retired Sunderland striker Danny Graham has been speaking about his return to Wearside for his second spell – and what life was like under controversial former boss Paolo Di Canio.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 11:00 am

The striker exited the Stadium of Light on deadline day in January after an agreement was reached to prematurely end his contract, with the striker then retiring from his 18-year playing career.

Graham, 35, spent two spells on Wearside having also represented Middlesbrough, Carlisle United, Watford, Swansea City and Blackburn Rovers.

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Former Sunderland striker Danny Graham. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Undr The Cosh Podcast, Graham said about his return to Sunderland: “I was going back home.

"It was never about money, the salary cap had come in.

"I was probably the lowest paid in the squad, it was about trying to get that squad out of the division basically.

"Phil Parkinson come to my house several times, he was begging me to sign.

"I’d play one game and then be out the squad for three games and there was never a run where I could put the consistency together.

"There were no fans so I wasn’t getting that noise, I could just walk out the ground. After a few month, I knew I was coming to the end.

"Lee Johnson had come in and he had a conversation with me and he said he wanted to go down the younger route and I was fine with it. That was it, playing career done.”

Graham added: “As soon as I met Phil Parkinson I knew I was up for going back.

“I met him at Wetherby when he was Bolton manager and he was offering good money and last minute I pulled the plug and went to Blackburn instead, so I was surprised when he picked up the phone and asked me to come back to Sunderland.

"He did think I would do a job for him, but as soon as Charlie [Wyke] scored that first goal he went on a mad run. It was great for him to score them goals because he had dogs abuse.

"I know he’s moved to Wigan now but I was hoping he’d get a move to the Championship."

Meanwhile, Graham has also opened up about what life at Sunderland was like under Paolo Di Canio.

He added: “I don’t think there was anyone at Sunderland who liked him and I would be very surprised if someone came out and said that they do… and if they do, I think they’re lying.

"He was dismissive from day one. I think Connor Wickham missed a header and Paolo was saying ‘I will fight you.’

"By the end of it, they called a meeting with everyone, they rang the players up saying what should we do and everyone said sack him.”

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