Paolo: Two More Years

Paolo Di Canio says that he will be back next season for West Ham with the fitness he had when he was 27 - and ready to play for two more years.

Paolo, currently working alongside Roberto Baggio at a specialist treatment centre in Bologna, says:

"I am much better, training every day, morning and afternoon, for seven hours a day like Baggio - he is here in the same clinic, and perhaps I will bring him back next season!

"I am fitter than before and I have a specific job for my fitness; this is something I haven't done for six years, because of course I couldn't, but now they are rebuilding me completely, and I am stronger than ever before, like when I was 27.

"I have another two great seasons in front of me; one with West Ham if I stay, and one I don't know where - depending on who wants to sign me."

Paolo denies summer rumours of a move to Italian surprise package Chievo, a tiny club on the outskirts of Verona, who have qualified for the UEFA Cup next season after being promoted last summer.

Asked about the story, he says:

"No, no, there was never anything going to happen with that."

Paolo was, of course, unable to say his goodbyes for the summer to supporters on the last day of the season because he was receiving treatment in Italy, and he does admit:

"I just heard the news that on the last day of the season the speakers in the stadium mentioned every single player, even those who played only three minutes.

"I don't know how my name was forgotten; but it is a little thing, even if it is about respect, and the main thing is I am getting better.

"But it is not a problem because I know the supporters sang my name; it is a shame what happened but it doesn't matter because I know how to fight - and my target, my mission, is to play for the supporters."

Paolo's pique is perhaps understandable, until you hear match day announcer Jeremy Nicholas' explanation.

"No slight was intended - as a big fan of Paolo I wouldn't want to upset him!" he says.

"It was simply a case of shouting out players' names as they went onto the pitch; Paolo was unfortunately not around and if I had shouted his name out no doubt everyone would have been looking for him and waiting at the gates until midnight looking for an autograph.

"He'll certainly be getting a big announcement of his name when he is back at Upton Park scoring the goals again."

Back in Bologna, Paolo is still meeting Hammers supporters, and he adds:

"Yesterday afternoon I met an English boy with his girlfriend in a restaurant, who said he was a big fan of me and West Ham.

"He has a tattoo on his leg of the club crest, and he gave me faith and extra energy to continue the way I am doing, and let the people enjoy their football with me.

"This is what I am looking forward to."