Former West Ham hero calls club his home, admits he misses them every day

West Ham

Paolo Di Canio says he saw his "family" again when he returned to Upton Park for Mark Noble's testimonial on Monday.

Former West Ham United hero Paolo Di Canio has told the Hammers' official website that they will always be a home for him, and admitted that he misses the club every day.

Despite already being 30 years old when he joined from Sheffield Wednesday in 1999, Di Canio spent arguably the most successful period of his career at Upton Park, becoming a hugely popular figure amongst fans in his four years at the club.

The sometimes controversial Italian scored 52 goals in 141 games for the club, becoming one of the most recognisable figures at the club in the early 2000s.

He returned to Upton Park on Monday to play in Mark Noble's testimonial, during which he as greeted with a tremendous reception from the sell-out crowd before delighting them with some flashy touches and a superb solo goal.

Speaking after featuring in the charity event to honour the current Hammers captain, the 47-year-old admitted to the club's website that it was a dream to return to the club he still considers home.

Di Canio told the club's website: "It is obvious that I feel at home when I come back here. I live in Italy but I miss them every day and this is a special occasion when all the fans are here.

"They still make me feel welcome with their warmth and attitude. That is special for me, even if it is just a friendly game. They sing my name and they do it because they believe in it.

"I gave my all for this club, my soul and heart, but what I get back is much bigger. It is sometimes too much for me! But I thank them because the relationship is still very strong and I am part of this family."

After being released by West Ham upon their relegation in 2003, Di Canio played briefly for Charlton Athletic before returning to Italy to rejoin his first club Lazio.

He remains one of the most popular figures in the club's recent history, and such is his bond with Hammers fans, he is likely to always receive a special welcome whenever he returns to the club in the future.

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