On This Day in 1997 – Sheffield Wednesday broke their club record to sign Paolo Di Canio
On this day in 1997, Sheffield Wednesday forked out a club record fee of over £4m to sign Paolo Di Canio from Celtic – a player who will go down as one of the most talented to ever wear the blue and white stripes.
Di Canio’s time at Hillsborough came to an abrupt end after just 18 months, with his infamous push on Paul Alcock in a 1-0 win over Arsenal proving to be the nail in his coffin – he was banned for 11 games and never played for the Owls again.
The Italian scored 17 goals – many of them memorable – in under 50 appearances for SWFC prior to his exit, and his efforts in that 1997/98 campaign won’t be easily forgotten by those present.
Speaking to the club on his return late last year, Di Canio spoke of his Wednesday regret, saying, “It’s the only place, unfortunately, I obviously still have regrets in some way, because I left this place in a strange way – not in a normal way.
“I don’t want to say it was the owner’s fault or my fault, but something happened in the life. I can understand, also, after many years some fans are still angry in some way and then I can respect it. But it’s obvious that what happened wasn’t against them.
“If there was something to remember it is only the relationship that I had in this city. Not only at this stadium because I had a fantastic life… We still share these moments with our friends when we talk about our experience abroad from Italy.
“It was a fantastic season. Unfortunately, in the end, it was not very good, but in some way, I still have good memories.
“I hope – never say never – that I can still meet a lot of them again in some way. But I’m never going to talk about them in a bad way because what they gave to me was amazing so I can only thank them forever.”
Di Canio scored 66 PL goals, creating almost 50 more, and there’ll always be a ‘what if’ regarding his time in Sheffield if things hadn’t gone sour when they did.