Di Canio: Wimbledon volley was pretty much a perfect strike!
It is exactly 18 years since Paolo Di Canio scored one of the most iconic goals in West Ham United history – his famous volley against Wimbledon.
There were just nine minutes gone in the Hammers’ Premier League clash with the Dons at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday 26 March 2000, when Trevor Sinclair launched a diagonal cross into the penalty area.
Rather than control the ball before unleashing a shot, the enigmatic and supremely talented Di Canio launched himself into the air before arrowing an unstoppable shot past Neil Sullivan with the outside of his right foot.
Harry Redknapp's side went on to win the game 2-1, with Frederic Kanoute getting the home side's other goal.
In May 2016, the goal was named the greatest in Boleyn Ground history and honoured during the stadium's closing ceremony.
Reflecting on a strike labelled ‘sensational, even by his standards’ by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, the Italian used typically enigmatic language.
I can understand in England why they show this because it was pretty much a perfect strike
Paolo Di Canio
“The Wimbledon goal was very good!” he confirmed. “The delivery was a typical English delivery, you know, as it was a delivery that started and arrived quickly.
“In an instant, I saw this ball arrive and I did a bicycle volley instinctively and the percentage of the difficulty is 99 per cent. But, if you see the change in the air, it is a harmony that only the dancer can have.
“I can understand in England why they show this because it was pretty much a perfect strike.”
Even the man who was beaten by Di Canio’s volley, Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, can look back on the moment with a smile.
“The dive was just a token dive!” said the former Scotland international. “It was more fall over than a dive as it came off his foot like a bullet. To actually do that takes some guts to do it! It could have gone anywhere, but it went right in the far corner.”