When West Ham Utd were relegated from the Premier League in 2003, Paolo Di Canio left the club a hero and a legend. The man who took charge of the East Londeners after their demotion to the Championship was none other than current Newcastle Utd boss Alan Pardew. On Sunday, the two men meet on the touchline for the first time, as opposing managers of each half of the Tyne Wear derby. It promises to be a passionate affair.
Pardew has already experienced the derby of course and disappointingly from a Sunderland perspective, has yet to be on the losing side. He was certainly fired up for his first encounter with the then Black Cats' manager Martin O'Neill at St James' Park - celebrating a penalty award like it was a goal - only to be embarrassed when Demba Ba fluffed his lines and Simon Mignolet saved his weak effort.
O'Neill was relatively dignified throughout the incident but it was not the first occasion Pardew has been involved in touchline controversy. He has a history of this sort of unedifying behaviour going back to his time in charge of West Ham, where he celebrated a goal over exuberantly in front of Arsene Wenger and later apologised. It will be interesting to see what happens if he acts in this manner with Di Canio as his opposite number.
It will be the Italian's first Tyne Wear derby and only his second match in charge of Sunderland. As manager of Swindon Town he was sent to the stands for remonstrating with officials as well as having public fallouts with his players and the board. If Pardew and Di Canio are men who court attention, then it comes from a guttural, raw passion on the Italian's part, whilst his opposite number's displays are often just that, an emphatic show of emotion that come across as stage managed and somewhat false.
In the build-up to the derby, Di Cano has spoken of its importance, describing the match as counting for 1000 games. He has tapped into what it means to a Sunderland fan, with Danny Rose also saying they have been told to "go to war" on Tyneside. This kind of rhetoric will go down well with the fans but there is also a concern that it could lead to his players losing their heads on the pitch and the match turning into an unruly battle.
The potential is certainly there for it do so. There have been red cards in all but one of the games since the Tynesiders' return to the Premier League three seasons ago, as well as last season's aforementioned managerial spat.
Aside from their passion and shared history at the Boelyn Ground, the managers are also linked by a past rooted in League 1. For Pardew, Southampton represented a fall from grace, which ended under a cloud. Newcastle United are, in many ways, his resurrection.
Paolo Di Canio began his managerial career at that level, his time ending more recently, as well as tumultuously, after a falling out with the Swindon Town board. Sunderland are a natural progression for him, though his ascent to the top flight has been quicker than many expected.
Di Canio's appointment was as much a shock as O'Neill's sacking, paralleling the surprise decision by Newcastle United to ditch the popular Chris Hughton and bring in the - at the time - hugely unpopular Alan Pardew. In fairness to Pardew, the hostility to his appointment has withered after a 5th place finish last season, whilst the negative media reaction to Di Canio has seemingly united the majority of Sunderland supporters behind him.
There is also a shared philosophy. Both managers rely on having extremely fit players. Di Canio has spoken of little other than fitness since arriving on Wearside and obviously sees it as a key in keeping his side up. Despite Craig Gardner's protestations to the contrary, his Italian manager is correct in his assessment of the squad. Whether he has the time to instil the sort of levels he wants from his players remains to be seen.
Pardew has worked with small squads throughout his career, relying on their fitness to see them through the season. Like at West Ham, the pressures of Premier League football married with the Europa League and a lack of investment in players have stretched that ability to its limit this season, until January allowed him to bring in reinforcements.
Pardew has shown himself to be very much a 4-4-2 man over the years and at Newcastle Utd in particular. Circumstance has seemingly forced his hand since Ba's departure. If he had been able to bring in another striker - as was his wish - then it's likely he'd have stuck with the system.
Di Canio is also a self-confessed 4-4-2 manager. Like his counterpart, circumstance and personnel are forcing him to be pragmatic and to fashion a side out of what is available to him. This practicality is a commendable trait in both men.