Harry Redknapp: "West Ham Legend Di Canio Will Be A Great Manager"
More often than not, fans become enamoured with the more erratic characters in the world of football: those that make headlines for reasons right and wrong, following moments of magic on the pitch by setting off fireworks in their bathroom, for example. Such characters enrich football’s culture, continuing to make the game interesting.
Paolo Di Canio is one man that certainly ticks all the boxes. The former Irons captain, now manager of Swindon Town, is no stranger to controversy and remains as fearless as ever. In spite of his hot-headed reputation, his success in the dugout has seen him become a firm favourite with the Robins faithful. Following the club’s relegation in 2011, the Italian guided them back into League One as champions in his first season.
On top of that, Swindon have seemingly adjusted to life in England’s third tier like a duck to water and currently find themselves fifth, five points off of an automatic promotion spot. His managerial capabilities have earned him his fair share of plaudits, and rightly so.
One of those to have praised Di Canio and the job he is doing at the County Ground is current Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp. The veteran boss signed the fiery Italian for West Ham United in 1999 and he believes Di Canio has all the credentials to go all the way to the top of the management ladder.
Speaking at a charity event, Redknapp said of the 44-year-old: “He is doing fantastic managing Swindon. I follow his progress and talk to him on a regular basis. He is doing really well and I think one day he will end managing in the Premier League.”
The praise could not be higher from a man who has been at the helm of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth during his thirty years in management. However, Redknapp admits that signing him for the Hammers all those years ago was a risky move – one that could easily have backfired.
“Probably the biggest gamble I ever took was signing Paolo Di Canio. He had pushed the referee over, (Paul) Alcock, and was just finishing his ban. I took a chance with him and brought him to West Ham and he was an amazing talent – the fans absolutely idolised him. He was a great footballer, but it was a massive gamble at the time and if anything had gone wrong, we would have been in trouble.”
Remembering the fun he had trying to control the maverick striker, Redknapp laughed: “He was great to manage. Every day was a challenge with him: he was a big nutter.”
Whether you love him or loathe him, Di Canio is certainly a manager going places. His time at Swindon has proven his quality and with praise coming from figures as influential as Redknapp, it is only a matter of time before bigger clubs look at the progress of the Robins and, more importantly, that of their man at the helm.