Paolo Di Canio's sportsmanship in Everton v West Ham that saw him win FIFA award remembered

Paolo Di Canio was given an award for sportsmanship during Everton vs West Ham in 2000

Paolo Di Canio was involved in all sorts of controversies during his professional football career.

The Italian footballer had a fiery temper and often lost his cool on the pitch.

He famously pushed over a referee after being sent off for Sheffield Wednesday in 1998, He was subsequently given an 11-game ban.

But, despite all his controversies, Di Canio was responsible for one of the most remarkable pieces of sportsmanship ever seen in the Premier League.

On December 16, 2000, West Ham travelled to Everton for their Premier League clash.

With the score locked at 1-1 late in the match, Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard came rushing out of his goal to quell an attack.

Gerrard managed to do so but, just as he was about to clear the ball, he collapsed to the ground in agony.

Paolo Di Canio in action for West Ham
26 Mar 2000: Paolo Di Canio of West Ham United during the FA Carling Premiership match against Wimbledon at Upton Park in London. West Ham United won the match 2-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/Allsport

That allowed Trevor Sinclair to take possession and he promptly found Di Canio inside the box.

Despite having a golden opportunity to win the game for his side, Di Canio incredibly caught the ball so Gerrard could receive treatment.

The Italian then walked over to the Everton goalkeeper to check up on him.

It was a quite remarkable piece of sportsmanship and you can view it below…

A round of applause rung around Goodison park in appreciation of Di Canio’s actions, while Everton defender David Weir gave him a pat on the head.

Di Canio’s act of sportsmanship earned him the FIFA Fair Play award. He was also given a plaque by Everton, handed to him by Gerrard a year later.

Harry Redknapp, West Ham manager, couldn’t believe what he had witnessed after the match.

“It was the most fantastic sportsmanship I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry though when he did it! But if the lad had a bad injury, he did the right thing,” Redknapp said, per the Premier League.

He added, per the Lancashire Telegraph: “I’d be lying if I said I was happy. It was a fantastic bit of sportsmanship. I’ve never seen anything like that before. It was certainly unusual.

“I haven’t had a go at Paolo. He did what he did and it was a wonderful piece of sportsmanship, considering the sort of things that have been said about him in the past.”

Stuart Pearce wasn’t as forgiving as Redknapp, though.

Recalling the incident in 2019, Redknapp told talkSPORT: “I’ve come off at the end and I’m like ‘what’s he done?’, Stuart Pearce comes thundering into the dressing room and says ‘don’t let me near him, I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him, I’m going to rip his head off!’”

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