Paolo Di Canio will hope for his 2002/03 Chelsea form to help Sunderland in their own survival battle

West Ham were relegated in the 2002-03 season but not for the want of trying from Paolo Di Canio; who scored the winners in both victories over Chelsea that season.

This is an article about Paolo Di Canio. This article is about football. That’s right I know a real collector’s item.

I mean who cares what his political ideals are. If he starts flogging the black and Jewish players like some sort of demonic dictator then sure maybe we can start to worry but until then ignore David Milliband, the ex-politician, using the first excuse that comes his way to get off the board of directors. Definitely ignore David Sullivan the dildo-flogger and his bizarre outburst at one of West Ham’s favourite sons.

This article prefers to look back on Paolo Di Canio’s career as a player; in particular his record against Chelsea. Today his Premier League management career gets under way at Stamford Bridge and his record against Chelsea as a player was mixed to say the least.

During his time with Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and West Ham United the mercurial Italian faced off against The Blues on no fewer than 11 occasions and his record is not to through-the fingers.

Four wins, six defeats and the solitary draw is not something to be shirked at but today he will be casting his mind back to 2002-03; when he truly was the bane of Chelsea’s season.

In September 2002 West Ham travelled to The Bridge with hope of securing their first Premier League win of the season but soon found themselves 1-0 down from the penalty spot via Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. However just before half-time Jermain Defoe pulled The Hammers level and that’s when the Di Canio show got started. First he gave West Ham the lead in the 48th minute before substitute Gianfranco Zola grabbed a 74th minute equaliser.

However with the game seemingly fading out to a hard-fought draw up popped Di Canio to grab West Ham’s third and seal a memorable 3-2 victory.

Later on that season in the reverse fixture at the Boleyn Trevor Brooking’s side completed a remarkable victory on the penultimate day of the season when, you guessed it; Di Canio scored a dramatic winner and celebrated with typical unbridled passion.

That goal proved to be his last ever goal for West Ham in front of the Upton Park faithful as despite the double over Chelsea; West Ham suffered relegation to the First Division.

Sunderland fans will hope a little bit of the Di Canio v Chelsea magic of that doomed season is still within the Italian; as the Black Cats chase their own Premier League survival.

image: © infollatus

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