Cup winners motivate Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio has urged his players to draw upon the heroics of Sunderland's 1973 FA Cup winners.

Last Updated: 04/05/13 at 13:25 Post Comment

Paolo Di Canio: Hopes Sunderland can enjoy success again

Paolo Di Canio: Hopes Sunderland can enjoy success again

Paolo Di Canio has urged his players to draw upon the heroics of Sunderland's 1973 FA Cup winners as they attempt to secure Barclays Premier League safety.

Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of the club's glorious giant-killing of Leeds at Wembley, and members of the team which secured its place in Wearside folklore will be presented on the pitch at the Stadium of Light on Monday evening before the Black Cats' crucial league clash with Stoke.

Di Canio, who has acquainted himself with the club's history since his arrival at the end of March, is well aware of the affection in which those men are still held in the city to this day, and he is hoping they can inspire the current crop, not just on Monday but in the future.

He said: "I always follow the tradition of every club. Here, I discovered in 1973 they were up against Leeds and the cup and it was a fantastic moment.

"When you know this moment, you feel the atmosphere around you and the club, and everybody is prepared for this moment to receive the heroes.

"You hope that one day you can be a part of this, to deliver something really important. We live for it.

"I hope also that this moment can be shared by my players and the fans together because they can deliver a positive energy.

"It can be an extra motivation for the fans and for my players especially to deliver something important, because one day they can be remembered for the rest of their lives at this club and in this area.

"I am really happy to know Sunday is the anniversary and on Monday night we will receive before the game all the heroes from 1973, and hopefully the same atmosphere and the same positive energy can remain in the stadium for my players.

"Now we are fighting to stay up, but one day I hope we can fight for something different."

That, however, is for the future and the present is very much about the battle for Premier League points.

Di Canio looked to have steered Sunderland to the brink of safety with successive victories over Newcastle and Everton, and they travelled to Aston Villa last Monday evening targeting a win which would have all but ended their fears.

But 90 demoralising minutes later, they found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-1 scoreline and back in the thick of the scrap for survival.

The Black Cats, like Villa and Newcastle, headed into the weekend five points better off than 18th-placed Wigan, who have a game in hand, and knowing their destiny is very much in their own hands.

Victory over either Stoke or Southampton, who head for Wearside next weekend, would calm the nerves and Di Canio is confident they can complete the job, if a week later than he had hoped.

He said: "It's in our hands. Even after this big, big defeat, we are in a better position than many others.

"We have one game less to play and we have a better goal difference - obviously we reduced it a bit in the last game.

"We play at home against Stoke, so it is in our hands. It hasn't changed - if we win our game on Monday night probably we will stay up.

"It depends what happens on Saturday, of course."

Di Canio faces a decision over the shape of his team after losing Benin international Stephane Sessegnon to suspension for the rest of the season with leading scorer Steven Fletcher already ruled out by injury.


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