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Di Canio speaks of Sunderland passion - 'I couldn't believe it'

Paolo Di Canio admits he did not foresee how much passion the fans would have for Sunderland.

The Italian took the reins at the Stadium of Light at the end of March and made an immediate impact, guiding the Black Cats to their first win over Tyne-Wear rivals Newcastle United at St James' Park in over a decade and to a rare victory over Everton.

Di Canio said the appetite of the supporters for such wins surprised him but was quick to point out that football can be such a fickle sport with his losing 6-1 to Aston Villa on Monday night to ruin the mood.

"After Newcastle, it was a three-day party for the fans, they players became heroes," he said.

"I couldn't go 400 yards for a haircut. In Sunderland, there is a passion like Naples (where he played in the early-to-mid 1990s). You can't go out because a butcher comes out with meat saying, 'It's for you, for your family'.

"You couldn't go into the town, I couldn't believe it. Even in the street during the day, I went 300 hundred yards and 20 people stopped me.

"Many girls came and hugged me and I was wondering what was going on. I couldn't imagine this passion. I can imagine the players around the town.

"It's another experience for me. It was very tough, the first time I had lost 6-1 with my team in front of our fans at a crucial moment of the season.

"But because the analysis we made was clear, I am sure that we can lose, we can draw, we can win, but on Monday night, we are going to perform in a proper way. I can guarantee this."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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