FRANCO Baresi says Paolo Di Canio “enjoyed” his outing at St James’s Park - despite the boos from Newcastle United fans and a boot from Joey Barton.
The Sunderland manager played 90 minutes of Steve Harper’s charity match between a Newcastle XI and AC Milan Glorie at St James’s Park last night.
After the game ended goalless, Di Canio scored one of the two Milan penalties which gave the visiting team a 2-1 win in the shootout.
Di Canio’s every touch was booed by United’s supporters - and he was also fouled by ex-United midfielder Barton, who had joked on Twitter about “emptying him out” in the build-up to the game.
But legendary Milan defender Baresi - who shared a dressing room with a young Di Canio in the mid-1990s - said Di Canio relished the experience of playing behind enemy lines.
“I think Paolo enjoyed the match,” Baresi said.
“He came even though he knew this wasn’t the best stadium for him as Sunderland are big rivals of Newcastle.
“He’s a big player and a big man to play with a smile on his face.”
The game was watched by a 50,793 crowd, and Baresi - who was substituted early in the second half - said playing at St James’s Park was a memorable experience.
“It was a fantastic night and a fantastic atmosphere,” said the 53-year-old.
“I want to say thank you to all the fans who filled the stadium. I was very happy for Steve. It was a successful event.
“It was for charity, but we wanted to play well for the people. We trained hard for this game.”