PAOLO Di Canio admits he will be happier when the only defence he is thinking about on Wearside is Sunderland’s – rather than his own!
The beleaguered Italian and his new club have been fighting a rearguard action all week as tales of the 44-year-old’s right-wing views have dominated the news headlines, radio and TV bulletins and talk shows.
Over the course of the week the story has subsided.
And a statement released through the club on Wednesday – in which Di Canio made it clear that he did not support fascist ideology – helped take the heat out of the furore.
But the scars are likely to stay with Di Canio for some time, with the new head coach telling SportMail: “I’m sorry that I have had to go through this, and I have been hurt by it.
“It does not feel fair to me that people, in my view, have been attacking the values given to me by my parents, parents who are sadly no longer with me.
“But in 45 years – and after this I want to finish – but in 45 years of my life tell me one story where I have done things involving politics?
“There isn’t one.”
Di Canio is also keen that those who defend him will not feel the need to go public in his support – he hopes instead that the whole debate will die away.
“People who want to say good things about me will talk about the game where I won the FIFA Fair Play award for stopping play when there was an injury, but I don’t even want to talk about this moment.
“I don’t want to talk about it because inside everyone there is a part of them is an angel, part of them is a devil – I hope I have expressed that right.
“I behave the way I behave.
“If I appear aggressive or theatrical to you, then that is how you must describe me, but that is my passion, this is my way.
“It is not all of me though – I have two girls, one goes to Southampton University to study bio-technology, the other goes to a British school.
“I pay tax. I play my part in civic life.
“My best friends are Chris Powell and Trevor Sinclair who are black, my agent is Jewish, so I am not as simple to portray as some would suggest.
“My hope is that soon we will not be talking about this subject any longer – that we will only be talking about football, because that is why I am here at Sunderland.