Ex-West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday and Celtic man explains controversial international offer snub

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A West Ham icon was offered a lucrative route back into football

Former West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday and Celtic man Paolo Di Canio has revealed that he turned down a sensational offer to return to football after over a decade out of management.

Di Canio arrived at Celtic in the summer of 1996 after turbulent spells in Italy with giants of the division such as Lazio, Napoli, Juventus and AC Milan. He was instantly a hit in Glasgow and scored 12 goals in 26 appearances before again clashing with the hierarchy at the club. A huge move to Sheffield Wednesday followed where he became a fan favourite before again falling into controversy after pushing a referee.

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But the Italian’s playing days are best remembered for his five-year stint at West Ham where he established himself as a club great - his most notable campaign proved to be the 1999/2000 campaign when he scored 16 league goals for Harry Redknapp’s side.

Later spells at Charlton and Italy followed before a shock return to football in 2011 when he took over as boss of Swindon Town who had been relegated into League 2.

Di Canio proved to be a huge hit with the Swindon faithful as he led the team to a League Two title before taking on a Premier League job with Sunderland the following year. The Italian’s reign at the Stadium of Light was short-lived and best remembered for a knee slide during a victory against bitter-rivals Newcastle. The result proved to be one of just three wins during his 13 games reign in the dugout and he was sacked at the start of the 2013/14 season.

Di Canio has been out of football since his dismissal in 2013 but he was offered a lucrative opportunity to link up with ex-Italy boss Roberto Mancini who offered him the role of Saudi Arabia assistant coach earlier this summer. Had he accepted the offer he would have followed a long line of big name stars including Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler who have both pursued coaching careers in the Middle East.

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However, Di Canio explained that he snubbed the role in an interview with La Stampa. Explaining the decision, he said: “I didn’t just say no to oil money, because it would have been an important experience in an environment that wants to grow and establish itself, like I do myself.

“Roberto Mancini didn’t offer me a minor role, he wanted me as a second coach on the pitch to train and improve the players. His courtship made me proud, especially given that we aren’t particularly close: a few games of Padel, a chat and not a lot more, so if he thought about me, it’s because he believes in my ideas and my work.”

He stated that in order to return to management he would need the “right project” and added: “If I’m just sitting on the bench for wages, I don’t go.”

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