Di Canio episode should be a warning to other Premier clubs


Sheffield Wednesday believe the nightmare problems they have encountered with Italian Paolo Di Canio will serve as a sharp lesson to other clubs. Wednesday are currently embroiled in an acrimonious situation with Di Canio which saw them suspend the 30-year-old for 14 days without pay, which in return has led to an appeal to the Premier League.

The two parties have almost reached the point of no return, with Wednesday considering placing Di Canio on the transfer list as their frustration at his petulant antics reach boiling point.

Like fellow temperamental import Pierre van Hooijdonk and his recent one-man strike with Nottingham Forest, the Hillsborough club are wondering whether the talent, coupled with such a volatile character, are worth the headaches.

Sheffield Wednesday's secretary Graham Mackrell said: "Footballers are now a high-profile form of entertainment and they do earn a great deal of money. It's very difficult to impose management on people who do not want to be managed.

"I'm sure other people will have learnt a lesson, and not just with this club, but in similar instances that have happened over the last few months.

"I've had one or two phone calls from people in Scotland who tell me this is what happened when Paolo was at Celtic. But I don't want to pre-judge the issue because we can only go on what has occurred here."

On that occasion in the summer of 1997, Di Canio failed to return to Parkhead for pre-season training after falling out with the Celtic board.

Now he claims he is suffering from stress and depression in struggling to come to terms with the 11-match ban imposed upon him following his shove on referee Paul Alcock.

Di Canio's agent Moreno Roggi claims a doctor's certificate verifying the illness was sent to the club, but to add to the bitterness, Wednesday admit they have never seen it.

Mackrell added: "Initially, there was no problem. He came back at the time stipulated with his own personal fitness trainer. He then returned to Italy on the fourth of December, with the permission of the club, to sort out a few personal matters. Unfortunately, he has yet to come back.

"We even sent a driver down to Heathrow to go and pick him up on the day he was expected.

"We finally made contact with his lawyer in the middle of the following week and he advised us a medical certificate had been sent on the Saturday. But we never received it.

"After taking advice we then suspended Paolo for 14 days without pay, which he has since appealed against. If he does require medical attention then he should be seen by our own medical advisors.

"We have not been able to get that message across to his lawyers. But it's very difficult to communicate when it's on a one-way basis. I think the supporters will be tremendously disappointed with him. I don't think it's asking too much if he isn't unwell, to come back and be medically examined."