Breaking news Di Canio confirmed as Sunderland manager
9:42pm Sunday 31st March 2013 in Sunderland AFC News
By Scott Wilson
PAOLO Di Canio has been confirmed as Sunderland's new manager and will officially take over his managerial duties tomorrow.
Di Canio has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at the Stadium of Light to replace Martin O'Neill, who was dismissed from his position yesterday evening.
The 44-year-old Italian will preside over his first game in charge of the Black Cats at Chelsea on Sunday and has seven games in which to safeguard the club's Premier League status.
Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United has left Sunderland just one point clear of the relegation zone.
Sunderland chairman Ellis Short said: "Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and raring to get started.
"The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top flight status. I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.
"Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season. They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve. That remains our primary aim."
Di Canio entered football management in 2011, taking charge of Swindon Town. During his tenure he guided the Robins to promotion and a Wembley final.
As a player, he made more than 500 appearances, scoring over 100 goals. Beginning his career in his native Italy, he played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and Milan, before making a move to Celtic.
This was followed by stints in the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.
His appointment is a controversial one, however, as he has courted extensive controversy in the past thanks to his far-right political viewpoint.
Di Canio has previously described himself as "a fascist", an outlook that has understandably made a number of supporters uneasy about his role as Sunderland manager.