Paolo Di Canio (sometimes stylised as Paolo di Canio) (born 9 July 1968) is an Italian football manager who currently manages Premier League team Middlesbrough and is also a former professional footballer. During his playing career he made over 500 league appearances and scored over one hundred goals appearing primarily as a deep-lying forward but could also play as an attacking midfielder, or as a winger. A talented yet controversial player, Di Canio was known for his creativity, technical ability, and dribbling skills, as well as his temperamental character, tenacity and aggression on the pitch.
Di Canio began his career in the Italian Serie A, playing for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and A.C. Milan, before a brief spell with the Scottish club Celtic. He subsequently spent seven years in the English Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic. He returned to Italy in 2004, playing for Lazio and Cisco Roma before retiring in 2008. He played for the Italian under-21s, making 9 appearances and scoring 2 goals, and was notably a member of the squad that finished in third place at the 1990 UEFA European Under-21 Championship under manager Cesare Maldini, but was never capped for the senior team.
Among the individual awards he received as a player, Di Canio was named SPFA Players' Player of the Year in 1997 and West Ham's player of the season in 2000. However, his career was at times characterised by controversy: he received an eleven-match ban in 1998 for pushing a referee and attracted negative publicity over his self allegiance to fascism.
In 2011, Di Canio entered football management in England with Swindon Town, guiding them in his first full season as manager to promotion to League One. He was appointed as the Sunderland manager at the end of March 2013. His controversial appointment lasted 13 games until he was sacked on 22 September after Sunderland had won only three games under his managership. After three years out of management, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson approached di Canio with "a project," combining the tactical nous of the veteran assistant manager Steve Agnew, and the passionate style and abrasiveness of di Canio, to attempt to secure survival in the Premier League and in a bid to make Middlesbrough a "full-time Premier League club." Di Canio reportedly accepted a two-year deal with an option of an extra two years on February 3rd 2017, confirming his return to management.