Paolo Di Canio reveals what happened at Celtic to cut his stay in Glasgow short and also admits his lasting gratitude that the Italian will always have for the late and great Tommy Burns.
The legendary Italian was a fantastic player and if you take his personal beliefs out of it, Di Canio was a joy to watch play in the Hoops, it was just a shame it was only for one season. (source)
The striker explains that both Glasgow clubs wanted his services but it was Tommy Burns that made him welcome and in the end Di Canio only wanted to play for Celtic and Tommy.
Di Canio also reveals the reason behind him leaving after one season and that the Celtic chairman promised him a better contract if the Italian had a good first season, the board being the board went back on a verbal agreement. (source)
Tommy Burns was the man that made Di Canio welcome in Scotland and even spent personal time with Paolo and his wife, for that the striker will always be respectful of Tommy Burns just like so many other players.
Di Canio Explains How He Went To Celtic (source):
“I knew Celtic wanted me and that was a little dream for me.
“When I was young I used to play Subbuteo with – strange for me at the time – this shirt with white and green horizontal stripes.
“So I thought: ‘ok, that will be a fantastic experience for me’.
“I also used to study geography, so Britain and Scotland used to be a land I wanted to visit.
“So I put the two things together, Celtic wanted to talk to me and I came over.
“It was a typical (situation) where there’s an agent who maybe knows the two clubs, they can help the situation to move on.
“They sent some messages through Joe Jordan, who used to play for AC Milan – but (to sign) for Rangers!
“But he said: ‘I know someone at Celtic and I know AC Milan, I saw them play. Paolo Di Canio can be a good prospect for this club’.
“Through him and another person – an Italian person that used to have contact with him – they started talking.
“My fantastic man, who I will never stop thanking and is up to the sky now, is Tommy Burns.
“He was the man that gave me this opportunity. I had a fantastic time with him, not only about football but as a person.
“I’m never going to forget how he helped me and my family to try to help me integrate in the community, which was in a different land with a different language.
“Every day he tried to help me and my wife, his wife was the same too. It made it feel like there was a microcosm family, to feel warm in some way. Because it wasn’t easy at the beginning.
“Even if we are open people it was a bit difficult for my wife, with a little girl at home.
“For me it was easy: play football, play my sport, distract myself.
“But with them (the Burns family) we felt straight away like we were in a second home.
“So I’m never going to forget what he did for me.
“At the beginning the slang was difficult because I didn’t speak even one word of English.
“I tried to learn right away but Scottish, with this slang, it wasn’t easy!Di Canio
The Striker Reveals Reason For Leaving (source):
“Sometimes there is no need to say everything, sometimes you can be more diplomatic.
“At the time I was young, I was 27, and at the beginning of the season the chairman promised to me, without putting it on paper, a (better) contract.
“I wanted to move to this club because it’s a dream for me, I accept this money. But in the end, if I’m doing well, we’ll talk about a new contract.
“The chairman said: ‘ok if you’re doing well we’ll talk about this’.
“At the end of the season I became the best player in the league, I was voted by everybody the best player of the season. So there’s no reason to say different.
“I went to the chairman and said: ‘do you remember the promise that you made last year?’.
“He said: ‘ok, but in my opinion these people don’t know football because you didn’t have a good season’. Chairman, please!
“I was smiling, I thought we were joking.
“I’m not a selfish person, I would change the best player to win the league. But to say ‘you had a bad season’?
“Ok. Ciao ciao. Bye bye.
“I’m sorry for the fans. I had pain inside because I had a fantastic time with the fans, they used to love me and I loved them.
“But I thought I couldn’t play under a person that would treat me in this way.
“I said: ‘ok, if you can sell me than sell me. I won’t play under you’.
“Then after a few months they sold me.”
We didn’t agree with Di Canio’s personal beliefs back then or even now but as a player we were blessed to have him play as the striker was of high quality.
It would have been interesting to have seen him stay for a few seasons and see if the outcome would have been different but in the end the striker only had money in his head.