No 54, Paolo Di Canio – The Athletic

Each day until the new season begins, The Athletic will bring you The Premier League 60, designed to reflect and honour the greatest players to have graced and illuminated the English top flight in the modern era, as voted for by our writers.

You might not agree with their choices, and you won’t agree with the order (they didn’t), but we hope you’ll enjoy their stories.

You can read Oliver Kay’s introduction to the series, here.

It’s Christmas Day when the phone rings. Betta Di Canio shouts to her husband that it’s for him.

“Who is it?” he asks.

Betta puts her hand over the receiver and whispers, “Alex Ferguson.”

Paolo Di Canio is convinced it’s one of his friends, winding him up. He takes the phone and waits for the prankster to burst out laughing. But the caller really is Ferguson and his season’s greeting is to offer Di Canio the chance to play for…

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