West Ham United legend Paolo Di Canio has been making headlines this week.
The Hammers hero sent a video message to West Ham fans to stay at home during the global health crisis (whufc.com).
And in an interview with Sky Sports, Di Canio revealed – for the first time in detail – the conversation he had with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson when turning down a move from West Ham to Old Trafford on Christmas Day.
The interview has attracted plenty of interest from West Ham and Man United fans.
West Ham fans already knew the story behind Fergie snub
But most Hammers supporters already knew the story behind that memorable snub.
The real comments that will blow West Ham minds, though, came later in the interview.
Di Canio revealed what he told then West Ham chairman Terence Brown after the Hammers were relegated in 2003 on a record 42 points.
The fiery Italian had been inexplicably left out of the team for much of the season by hapless manager Glenn Roeder.
Di Canio offered to stay for ‘food and rent’
Di Canio ended up leaving West Ham for Charlton when the Hammers dropped.
At the time Brown told West Ham fans the club could not afford their legendary striker’s wages in the second tier.
But now Di Canio has revealed he effectively offered to play for free to stay with his beloved West Ham in their hour of need.
“Di Canio says he offered to sign a blank contract to play for West Ham in the Championship,” Sky Sports reports.
“I told them, ‘you decide the money, I will stay here – just give me rent and food, write what you want here, because I need to give back to the fans what we lost this year,’” he says.
“They said ‘no he is not part of the project’.”
Brown short-sightedness for all to see
So there you have it West Ham fans. From the horse’s mouth. Not that it will surprise supporters who had been campaigning for Brown to leave the club for years.
And what a short-sighted decision that proved to be from Brown, who returned to the club as a shareholder under David Sullivan and David Gold.
West Ham failed to bounce straight back to the top flight and almost certainly would have with Di Canio in the side.
His time at Charlton does not taint Di Canio’s legacy, though. He will never be forgotten in London’s East End.