The day Paolo Di Canio sent referee tumbling in Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal clash

Di Canio pushes Alcock
Di Canio pushes Alcock
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When Paul Alcock was appointed to take charge of Sheffield Wednesday’s home match against Arsenal on 26 September 1998, little did he know what would transpire.

There were 27,949 present at Hillsborough that day and there was a little over a minute of a goalless first half left.

It had been fiery at times and when Wednesday’s Wim Jonk tugged on Patrick Vieira’s shirt outside the Arsenal area, Vieira reacted angrily, pushing the Dutchman.

That was the cue for players from all over the pitch to descend on the scene with Paolo Di Canio and Martin Keown grappling.

After the melee has eased slightly, Alcock pulled out the red card, which to Di Canio might as well have been a red rag.

The Italian lost the plot. Hillsborough stood in unified disbelief as the hot-headed Italian pushed Alcock, culminating in a somewhat comedic tumble from the official.

Paolo Di Canio on his way to the hearing at Bramall Lane. He would be banned for 11 games

Paolo Di Canio on his way to the hearing at Bramall Lane. He would be banned for 11 games

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Keown was next to be sent off, any protestation of acting as peacemaker undone by his use of a raised forearm while holding on to the neck of his Di Canio’s shirt.

That part is barely remembered though as Di Canio's actions were pored over on Match of the Day that night and dominated the Sunday papers.

Manager Danny Wilson had only just had a public falling out with Di Canio and he said: “He totally lost it for a split second and I don’t know what was going through his head.

Paolo Di Canio eventually leaves the pitch after pushing referee Paul Alcock

Paolo Di Canio eventually leaves the pitch after pushing referee Paul Alcock

“We immediately suspended him so that people understand that we recognise the severity of the incident, and we will back the FA in whatever they choose to do.”

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There were rumours too emanating from Hillsborough that the Wednesday dressing room door had come off its hinges and a glass mirror smashed into smithereens.

Di Canio attended a disciplinary meeting at Bramall Lane the following month where he was found guilty of misconduct.

He was given an 11-match ban in total - an automatic three-game suspension for his red card plus eight for the push - as well as being fined £10,000.

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