Tag Archives: Paolo di Canio

Iconic Moments: Sporting class from di Canio (December 2000)

Paolo di Canio had attracted the wrong kind of headlines in September 1998 when he lost his temper and shoved referee Paul Alcock to the floor whilst playing for Sheffield Wednesday. Now at West Ham United, di Canio could still have moments of madness. However, he won plenty of friends on Merseyside for this sporting gesture in December 2000.

Everton were playing West Ham at Goodison Park and the score was evenly poised at 1-1 when Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard charged out of his goal and got injured in the process. Trevor Sinclair played on and crossed the ball and all Di Canio had to do was put the ball into an empty net and win the game for the Londoners.

However, he chose to catch the ball rather than score so the physios could come on the pitch to treat Gerrard. He received a round of applause from all four corners of the ground in what has to be considered as one of the best acts of sportsmanship seen in the first 25 years of Premier League football.

This gesture saw him win the FIFA Fair Play Award for 2001.

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Premier League Files: Paulo Wanchope

Premier League Career: Derby County (1997-1999), West Ham United (1999-2000), Manchester City (2000-2001, 2003-2004)

Costa Rican Paulo Wanchope was an enigmatic forward who could do amazing things one minute, then completely frustrate you the very next. However, he will still go down as having one of the most amazing debuts in the Premier League.

He joined Derby County in March 1997, costing the club £600,000. His debut would come at Old Trafford against current champions and league leaders Manchester United. Unless you really knew your football, few would have heard of the name Paulo Wanchope at kick-off. It was a completely different story by the full-time whistle.

Derby were already 1-0 up when Wanchope took possession inside his own half. He went on to beat no fewer than four Manchester United players with a gangling, but decisive run through their backline before calmly placing the ball beyond the advancing Peter Schmeichel. It was a moment that Derby supporters would never forget and was actually voted the greatest goal in the club’s history during their 125th anniversary celebrations.

Part of an impressive attacking line-up under Jim Smith’s tenure at Derby, Wanchope combined brilliantly with the likes of Dean Sturridge, Stefano Eranio and Francesco Baiano. He scored another 21 Premier League goals for the club, including a goal to send Arsenal to their first defeat of their 1997-1998 title-winning campaign.

In July 1999, Derby decided to cash in on Wanchope as his form had started to dip in the final months of the previous season. He joined West Ham United for £3.5 million and formed a formidable partnership with the charismatic Paolo di Canio. Between them, they scored 31 times in the Premier League as West Ham United finished ninth. In 1999-2000, Wanchope scored 12 league goals but the Hammers faithful never quite took to him as the supporters did at Derby.

When Freddie Kanoute and Davor Sukur both arrived at Upton Park in the summer of 2000, Wanchope was sold to newly-promoted Manchester City for £3.65 million and made a swift impression for his new side, scoring a hat-trick in their 4-2 victory over Sunderland. This was in Manchester City’s first top-flight game at Maine Road in over four years. He added another six goals but couldn’t prevent Joe Royle’s side slipping out of the top-flight after just a single season back amongst the elite.

He stayed with the Citizens in the First Division and despite injury setbacks; he scored 12 times in just 15 appearances to help them to the title and an immediate return to the Premier League. Unfortunately, a knee injury was now hurting his career. He spent the entire 2002-2003 season on the treatment table and was a bit-part player on his return with Kevin Keegan having the services of Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler on his books.

Nevertheless, Wanchope still scored six times in 2003-2004, including a crucial winning goal at home to Newcastle United that effectively kept the club in the Premier League after severe threats against relegation. He moved to La Liga in the summer of 2004, signing for Malaga. Further spells came in Qatar, Japan and the United States before retiring in November 2007, citing his knee problems as the decisive factor in not being able to demonstrate his best form.

He moved into coaching and even had a spell as national team manager of Costa Rica but resigned in 2015 after video footage emerged of him hitting a match steward.

When fit, Paulo Wanchope had an excellent goalscoring pedigree and Derby County supporters will never forget that incredible debut bow in April 1997 at Old Trafford.

Premier League Files: Matt Ritchie

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2010), AFC Bournemouth (2015-2016), Newcastle United (2017-PRESENT)

After the briefest taste of Premier League football with Portsmouth in 2010, Matt Ritchie was part of AFC Bournemouth’s historic first campaign at this level and is back in the top-flight this season as he looks to play a role in keeping Newcastle United away from relegation.

Ritchie got his big break with Portsmouth. A part of their academy since the age of 13, Ritchie made his Premier League in April 2010. It was largely down to the club’s crippling injury list and the huge financial strain they were in too. He played 79 minutes in the defeat to Wigan Athletic and admitted it was a dream come true to make his debut for the club where he’d done all of his education with.

It looked like he was set for a bright future at Fratton Park but soon had a disagreement with new manager Steve Cotterill and was frozen out of his plans. He was loaned out to Swindon Town, making 16 appearances before the Robins’ agreed to make the loan move a permanent deal. Although Swindon were relegated to League Two at the end of the campaign, he was awarded the club’s Player of the Season award.

Ritchie remained a Swindon player until January 2013 and worked under Paolo di Canio, who was the club’s manager. His performances raised eyebrows with higher-profile clubs and AFC Bournemouth were among those admirers. Di Canio insisted he would not be sold, claiming he was worth £2 million. In March 2012, Ritchie won the League Two Player of the Year and was one of Swindon’s two players in the PFA Team of the Year.

Bournemouth eventually got their man in January 2013, after Swindon’s board decided their offer was too good to turn down. Di Canio was furious with the hierarchy and ultimately, Ritchie’s departure would turn out to be the catalyst for his exit from the County Ground. Ritchie joined a team in peak form and his first goal for the club in a 4-1 win over Bury starting a run of eight successive victories, shooting the club towards the Championship.

In 2014-2015, Matt won international recognition from Scotland. Despite being born in Gosport, Ritchie qualified to play for the Scots through his Scottish father and he made his debut in a friendly match against Northern Ireland. In club football, he had a sizzling campaign, scoring 11 times and setting up 13 further strikes for his teammates. Bournemouth went up as champions and would be playing Premier League football for the first time in their history – just six years after being close to relegation to the Conference.

His first top-flight strike was a venomous volley to help the Cherries beat Sunderland 2-0 in September 2015 and earn them their first home win in the Premier League. A month later, Ritchie scored the club’s fastest goal of the season, netting inside a minute against Tottenham Hotspur although it ended in a horrid 5-1 home defeat.

Bournemouth finished 16th in their first Premier League campaign, with Matt chipping in with four goals, so it was a surprise to see him drop down a division to Newcastle United in July 2016, signing a five-year deal to move to Tyneside. He scored 16 goals in all competitions, only being outscored by Dwight Gayle as Newcastle comfortably earned promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

As of January 2018, Ritchie has featured 23 times for Newcastle in the Premier League and has created more chances for his teammates than any other Magpies’ player this season. He has the quality to change matches with dangerous crosses and inch-perfect passes. However, he hasn’t scored yet this season and it will help Rafa Benitez out in their relegation battle to see him rediscover his goalscoring touch as the season progresses.

Iconic Moments: Di Canio shoves Alcock (September 1998)

There’s no doubt that Italian Paolo di Canio was a character on the football field. He was fabulously gifted at times but also frustratingly infuriating at other occasions. He represented Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic during his Premier League playing days and had an explosive reign in charge of Sunderland during 2013. The lowest point of his career came in September 1998.

Sheffield Wednesday were playing the reigning champions Arsenal at Hillsborough and the game was goalless when the match blew up spectacularly. Patrick Vieira and Wim Jonk had a scrap in the middle of the pitch. Vieira didn’t like the challenge and over-reacted, pushing over the Dutch player. Other players started piling in, with di Canio and Martin Keown getting into a heated confrontation, whilst others were trying to play peacemaker.

Referee Paul Alcock took his time before brandishing the red card in di Canio’s direction. What happened next was inexcusable on di Canio’s part. He shoved Alcock to the ground. Whilst the referee made the absolute most of the contact, di Canio had no right to behave like he did. The FA took a dim view to the incident and handed him an 11-match ban. Sheffield Wednesday suspended him immediately after the incident and he would never play for the club again. He moved to West Ham in January 1999.

For the record, Keown was also sent off in the incident and Sheffield Wednesday ended up winning the game 1-0 with a late winner from Lee Briscoe.

It was a sour incident and whilst some do feel Paul Alcock definitely over-exaggerated his fall, showing physical contact to a referee was simply unacceptable. For all the brilliance of di Canio’s career, including that brilliant goal against Wimbledon in March 2000, these incidents are just as fondly remembered for the wrong reasons.

Seasonal Records: 1999-2000

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 1999-2000 Premier League campaign, which saw the biggest margin of victory between the top two in Premier League history.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 28 7 3 97 45 +52 91
2 Arsenal 38 22 7 9 73 43 +30 73
3 Leeds United 38 21 6 11 58 43 +15 69
4 Liverpool FC 38 19 10 9 51 30 +21 67
5 Chelsea 38 18 11 9 53 34 +19 65
6 Aston Villa 38 15 13 10 46 35 +11 58
7 Sunderland 38 16 10 12 57 56 +1 58
8 Leicester City 38 16 7 15 55 55 0 55
9 West Ham United 38 15 10 13 52 53 -1 55
10 Tottenham Hotspur 38 15 8 15 57 49 +8 53
11 Newcastle United 38 14 10 14 63 54 +9 52
12 Middlesbrough 38 14 10 14 46 52 -6 52
13 Everton 38 12 14 12 59 49 +10 50
14 Coventry City 38 12 8 18 47 54 -7 44
15 Southampton 38 12 8 18 45 62 -17 44
16 Derby County 38 9 11 18 44 57 -13 38
17 Bradford City 38 9 9 20 38 68 -30 36
18 Wimbledon 38 7 12 19 46 74 -28 33
19 Sheffield Wednesday 38 8 7 23 38 70 -32 31
20 Watford 38 6 6 26 35 77 -42 24

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1060
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup), Leicester City (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup), Bradford City (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 11 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 16 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 11 games (Sunderland & Watford)
Longest losing run 8 games (Wimbledon)
Highest attendance 61,629 (Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur)
Lowest attendance 8,248 (Wimbledon vs. Sheffield Wednesday)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Roy Keane (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Harry Kewell (Leeds United)
Football Writers’ Award Roy Keane (Manchester United)
PFA Team of the Year Nigel Martyn, Ian Harte, Gary Kelly, Sami Hyypia, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, David Beckham, Harry Kewell, Andy Cole, Kevin Phillips
Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Premier League Goal of the Season Paolo di Canio (WEST HAM UNITED vs. Wimbledon)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Michael Bridges Southampton vs. Leeds United 0-3 11th August 1999
Andy Cole (4) Manchester United vs. Newcastle United 5-1 30th August 1999
Kevin Phillips Derby County vs. Sunderland 0-5 18th September 1999
Alan Shearer (5) Newcastle United vs. Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 19th September 1999
Kanu Chelsea vs. Arsenal 2-3 23rd October 1999
Marc Overmars Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough 5-1 21st November 1999
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (4) Manchester United vs. Everton 5-1 4th December 1999
Nick Barmby West Ham United vs. Everton 0-4 26th February 2000
Stan Collymore Leicester City vs. Sunderland 5-2 5th March 2000
Steffen Iversen Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton 7-2 11th March 2000
Dwight Yorke Manchester United vs. Derby County 3-1 11th March 2000
Paul Scholes Manchester United vs. West Ham United 7-1 1st April 2000
Dean Windass Bradford City vs. Derby County 4-4 21st April 2000

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Kevin Phillips Sunderland 30
2 Alan Shearer Newcastle United 23
3 Dwight Yorke Manchester United 21
4 Michael Bridges Leeds United 19
5 Andy Cole Manchester United 18
6 Thierry Henry Arsenal 17
7 Paolo di Canio West Ham United 16
8= Niall Quinn Sunderland 14
8= Chris Armstrong Tottenham Hotspur 14
10= Tony Cottee Leicester City 13
10= Steffen Iversen Tottenham Hotspur 13
10= Marian Pahars Southampton 13
13= Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 12
13= Kanu Arsenal 12
13= Dion Dublin Aston Villa 12
13= Paulo Wanchope West Ham United 12
13= Hamilton Ricard Middlesbrough 12
13= Kevin Campbell Everton 12
13= Robbie Keane Coventry City 12
20= Michael Owen Liverpool FC 11
20= Gary McAllister Coventry City 11
22= Harry Kewell Leeds United 10
22= Emile Heskey Leicester City & Liverpool FC 10
22= Tore Andre Flo Chelsea 10
22= Nick Barmby Everton 10

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Newcastle United 8-0 Sheffield Wednesday 19th September 1999
Manchester United 7-1 West Ham United 1st April 2000
Tottenham Hotspur 7-2 Southampton 11th March 2000
Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United 3rd October 1999
Derby County 0-5 Sunderland 18th September 1999
West Ham United 5-0 Coventry City 22nd April 2000
Newcastle United 5-0 Southampton 16th January 2000
Everton 5-0 Sunderland 26th December 1999
Wimbledon 5-0 Watford 4th December 1999
Manchester United 5-1 Everton 4th December 1999

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Tottenham Hotspur 7-2 Southampton 11th March 2000
9 West Ham United 5-4 Bradford City 12th February 2000
8 Newcastle United 8-0 Sheffield Wednesday 19th September 1999
8 Manchester United 7-1 West Ham United 1st April 2000
8 Everton 4-4 Leeds United 24th October 1999
8 Bradford City 4-4 Derby County 21st April 2000
7 Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland 5th March 2000
7 Middlesbrough 3-4 Manchester United 10th April 2000
7 Coventry City 3-4 Leeds United 11th September 1999
7 West Ham United 4-3 Sheffield Wednesday 21st November 1999
6 Manchester United 5-1 Newcastle United 29th August 1999
6 Manchester United 5-1 Everton 4th December 1999
6 Arsenal 5-1 Middlesbrough 20th November 1999
6 Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 Wimbledon 2nd October 1999
6 West Ham United 2-4 Manchester United 18th December 1999
6 Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Aston Villa 15th April 2000
6 Newcastle United 4-2 Arsenal 14th May 2000
6 Everton 4-2 Watford 1st April 2000
6 Southampton 4-2 Newcastle United 15th August 1999
6 Manchester United 3-3 Southampton 25th September 1999

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Gary McSheffrey Sunderland 1-1 Coventry City 17 years, 16 days 29th August 1999
Jonathan Bewers Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Aston Villa 17 years, 7 months, 5 days 15th April 2000
Joe Cole West Ham United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 8 months, 30 days 7th August 1999
Carlos Marinelli Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 9 months, 12 days 26th December 1999
Jordan Stewart Leicester City 1-3 West Ham United 17 years, 10 months, 19 days 22nd January 2000
Adam Murray Derby County 0-1 Bradford City 17 years, 11 months, 26 days 25th September 1999
Michael Carrick Bradford City 0-3 West Ham United 18 years, 1 month 28th August 1999
Graham Barrett Leicester City 0-3 Arsenal 18 years, 1 month, 28 days 4th December 1999
Steve Brooker Watford 2-3 Wimbledon 18 years, 2 months, 17 days 7th August 1999
Robert Betts West Ham United 5-0 Coventry City 18 years, 4 months, 1 day 22nd April 2000

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Steve Ogrizovic Coventry City 4-1 Sheffield Wednesday 42 years, 7 months, 24 days 6th May 2000
Neville Southall Bradford City 1-2 Leeds United 41 years, 5 months, 25 days 12th March 2000
Dave Watson Everton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur 38 years, 1 month, 26 days 15th January 2000
Richard Gough Leicester City 1-1 Everton 38 years, 3 days 8th April 2000
Barry Horne Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 Leicester City 37 years, 11 months, 26 days 14th May 2000
Stuart Pearce West Ham United 2-0 Southampton 37 years, 10 months, 13 days 8th March 2000
Steve Bould Sunderland 2-1 Everton 37 years, 4 months, 9 days 25th March 2000
Raimond van der Gouw Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United 37 years, 1 month, 20 days 14th May 2000
John Dreyer Bradford City 1-0 Liverpool FC 36 years, 11 months, 3 days 14th May 2000
David Seaman Arsenal 3-3 Sheffield Wednesday 36 years, 7 months, 20 days 9th May 2000

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Ed de Goey Chelsea 16
2 Sander Westerveld Liverpool FC 14
3 Nigel Martyn Leeds United 13
4 David James Aston Villa 12
5 Mark Bosnich Manchester United 11
6 Paul Gerrard Everton 10
7= Thomas Sorensen Sunderland 9
7= Mark Schwarzer Middlesbrough 9
7= Magnus Hedman Coventry City 9
7= Mart Poom Derby County 9

Great Goals: Paolo di Canio – WEST HAM UNITED vs. Wimbledon (March 2000)

The enigmatic Paolo di Canio is one of the league’s most charismatic players and also, one of the best players ever to have played for West Ham United. His array of skills, combined with the Italian flair and short temperament line meant life was never dull with di Canio around.

This goal against Wimbledon in March 2000 was simply breathtaking. I will even go as far to say it is my favourite all-time goal in the Premier League. Marc-Vivien Foe and Trevor Sinclair both played their part in the build-up. It is Sinclair who produces a delightful pass across the field and over defender Kenny Cunningham. Di Canio watches the entire sequence and incredibly, launches both his feet off the ground. He is in orbit when he connects with the ball and it flies past Neil Sullivan’s despairing dive.

West Ham won this London derby 2-1 and Wimbledon would be relegated two months later from the Premier League. However, they were beaten by a moment of striking excellence in this match from di Canio.

Referees in the Middle: Paul Alcock

Premier League Career: 1995-2000

First Premier League Match: Coventry City 2-1 Manchester City (23 August 1995)

Final Premier League Match: Liverpool FC 0-0 Southampton (7 May 2000)

Born in 1953, Paul Alcock spent over 20 years in professional football and was a Premier League referee from 1995-2000.

Originally from Surrey, Alcock became a linesman in the Football League in 1982 and spent six seasons running the line at many English grounds. He joined the Premier League referee list in 1995 and his first game in charge was on the first midweek round of fixtures in the 1995/1996 season. Dion Dublin scored a late header in Coventry City’s 2-1 win over Manchester City at Highfield Road.

He is most famously known for a dramatic incident in a match at Hillsborough between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal in September 1998. The trouble began a minute before half-time when Patrick Vieira reacted angrily to a sly challenge from Petter Rudi. Paolo di Canio got involved and as players from both sides attempted to break things up, di Canio kicked out at Martin Keown.

This was spotted by Alcock who sent the charismatic Italian off. Di Canio’s response was to thrust his hands into Alcock’s chest and push him to the ground in a complete moment of madness. He was then involved in a further confrontation with Nigel Winterburn before being ushered from the field of play. Sheffield Wednesday suspended their maverick almost immediately.

At an FA hearing a month later, Di Canio was banned for 11 matches and fined £10,000. Alcock considered quitting the game after the incident and he wasn’t happy with the punishment, saying: “I am concerned that the message being sent out by the FA can be interpreted as being lenient.”

Alcock continued refereeing in the Premier League until May 2000 before dropping back into the Football League for two seasons. His final match was a Division One game between Norwich City and Stockport County in 2002.

After hanging up his whistle, Alcock went into the retail industry, becoming the shopping centre manager of the Malls Chequers in Maidstone. He retired from that role in 2014 and has also held roles with the Maidstone Leisure Trust, along with still being a football referee assessor in the Championship.

In March 2017, he admitted in a newspaper interview that he was battling cancer for a third time. Initially diagnosed in 2015, I would like to wish him well in his battle to beat the cruel disease once more.

UPDATE: (30th January 2018) – It is with great sadness to have discovered that Paul Alcock lost his brave battle with cancer, aged 64 on Monday 30th January 2018. My thoughts are with Paul’s family and friends at this tough time.