On this day - 9 July


Name: Paolo Di Canio
Born: 9 July 1968, Rome, Italy
Clubs: Lazio, Juventus, Napoli, Milan, Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Lazio, Cisco Roma

Former Hammer of the Year Paolo Di Canio is today celebrating his 45th birthday, little more than ten years after bidding an emotional farewell to West Ham United.

Paolo Di Canio

The unpredictable Italian signed from Sheffield Wednesday in January 1999 and would remain at the Boleyn Ground for an eventful four-and-a-half years.

In his first full season, Di Canio notched 16 Premier League goals in just 29 league starts, an impressive return that saw him voted Hammer of the Year. Among those 16 strikes was a stupendous volley against Wimbledon, one that was subsequently voted Goal of the Season.

Though he would struggle to reach those same goalscoring heights in the following three seasons, there was certainly no shortage of drama where the Italian was concerned.  

He would famously and sportingly stop play in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on 16 December 2000, so that stricken Everton goalkeeper  Paul Gerrard could receive medical attention.

Two years thereafter and the Hammers No10 saved his very best for a trip to Stamford Bridge. At the time, Glenn Roeder's men were rock bottom and winless after six, before Di Canio took matters into his own hands, teeing himself up and then unleashing the most outrageous of volleys to put the Hammers 2-1 up. Incidentally, the Italian also struck the winner with just six minutes left!

Though Di Canio's time in east London would ultimately end in the disappointment of relegation, he did at least sign off at the Boleyn Ground with the winner in a crucial 1-0 triumph over Chelsea.  Di Canio departed to join Alan Curbishley's Charlton Athletic having scored 51 times in 141 appearances in claret and blue.

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