Emerson Thome says Paolo di Canio is capable of keeping up Sunderland.
Ex-Sunderland defender Thome - who played alongside the Italian at Sheffield Wednesday - insists Di Canio would not have taken over on Wearside unless he was convinced he could keep the club in the Premier League.
"I know Paolo from playing with him at Wednesday, and I know the kind of character he is," the 41-year-old, who ended his career in Japan and now lives in Portugal, told the Sunday Sun.
"He is a very confident, determined and passionate man. He wants to be a success at anything he does. No one will work harder than him to keep Sunderland up, and of course I want him to succeed because I still have strong feelings for the club.
"Paolo came to England from Italy to manage Swindon in League Two, and it is not easy for anyone to manage at that level where there is not a lot of money and life is very different to being a Premier League player.
"But he brought success to Swindon and won promotion with them before he left.
"I know that people will say he has no top-flight managerial experience, and that is true.
"But what I can say is that Paolo will have looked at himself and asked if he was ready for the challenge of keeping Sunderland up. He would not have taken the job if he didn't believe he could do it."