Paolo Proud

Paolo Di Canio says that, amongst others, his piranhas are happy that he is staying at Upton Park!

Boss Glenn Roeder, too has stated how pleased he is that the speculation about a move to Manchester United has stopped, and says: "This is the longest Paolo has stayed at any one club which suggests he quite likes east London and likes working for the people who employ him.

"He is one of those players that can make the difference and there is always that possibility that he can unlock the door.

"I think we'd all agree that Alex Ferguson is one of the shrewdest judges in the game and if he wanted him there must be a good reason for that.

"We are just glad as a club that the Champions' League deadline came and went on Thursday and the transfer saga has been laid to rest because we need to pick up some points."

But perhaps Paolo's piranhas are just as grateful.

He says: "For three weeks the fish man who feeds my daughters' piranhas has been saying don't go, because if I do he will kill my piranhas.

"I say 'I definitely won't go - but don't kill my piranhas, they are like kids to me!'

"Every person who comes into my house, a brickie, a plumber, the laundry person, they all say 'please don't go'."

Daughters Ludavica and Lucretia look after the piranhas, one of whom has been named Paolo - "because he wants to eat everything," says the Italian striker.

Now Paolo wants to concentrate on his football, once his upcoming three match ban is over.

"I miss Chelsea at home, Bolton away, and Preston at home if we beat Chelsea in the FA Cup. It is important that I will miss only two weeks and just one league game, so I pray we get through against Chelsea and I miss only one league game.

"I can't live all my life to answer these questions under pressure, but I don't want an extra contract. I have the next three months plus one year and I want to respect that, then for family reasons go back to Italy.

"Now this is my idea at the moment, to have a good few months with them, but if someone offers you a good chance you can change.

"Maybe I could bring my parents here so I can stay with them anyway.

"But I want to give my best, not only on the pitch, but I want to try to help Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and let them understand they have to prove something every day - this is my mission.

"They are fantastic, talented players and I want them to jump to the next level and become top players, very important ones not only for West Ham but internationally."

Paolo was delighted to get back to winning ways on Saturday, and adds: "I am very happy because we won and I always play with passion, even if some media try to write that my brain was far away a week or two weeks ago, or that when the team has a bad game it is only me.

"We lost 5-1 at Chelsea and only I was supposed to have played badly.

"It is a team thing and was exactly the same on Saturday - it was not only I that played well, it was the team.

"I am a good player - and we have many good players, so if we do it, we do it as a team.

"But the attention was focused only on me because the news of Manchester United being after me was so big."

Nothing could mask Paolo's delight both during the game, when he gave what he called a "salsa latin dance" to celebrate West Ham's second goal, and afterwards, when he said that his critics will not grind him down.

"Some ex-footballers speak about me too much," he says. "If I score three goals they would say I took a bad corner.

"I wasn't down when a lot of people tried to put me down with jealous comments, but I feel sorry, and it is the same with some ex-footballers in Italy - they are angry with new footballers because they earn more money and are more famous.

"The comments are never honest and it is no good to just say negative things.

"It has been asked why am I the skipper, but if the manager gives you the skipper's armband he is the man who thinks it is right.

"You can talk about the game, but it has been said that I played very bad in the last six games.

"I want to tell this person that in the last six games I scored three league goals, made three, and created another six or seven chances.

"When we played bad at Chelsea and Southampton we played bad as a team but there was Leicester at home, 1-0, three points.

"There was Leicester away, 1-1, Derby at home, I won a free kick and scored a is not my opinion, it is a statistic."

Meanwhile, Paolo has dismissed the notion that he would like to take up British citizenship now he has lived here for five years.

The theory goes that he could then choose to play for any of the home countries, but he says: "It is not fair for English people and it wouldn't be fair for Italy. It is not something in my mind.

"Even club teams have too many foreign players - Milan has eleven sometimes.

"I speak Italian and maybe I'd be singing the wrong national anthem with three lions on my chest!"