On scoring an FA Cup Fourth Round winner against Manchester United (in 2001) and future managerial aspirations:
It was a very exciting moment. It was like having sex with Madonna. I don’t know if this will be the same as a manager. Probably yes. It would be fantastic. Let me try it.
On being appointed Swindon manager:
A lion can't stay in a cage. A lion has to be on the pitch. So, this is my job and this is my life.
On what football is:
Football has never been a business. Football is a passion.
On what he looks for in a player [as Swindon manager]:
Attitude is the most important. Obviously a player has to have talent but talent without attitude is nothing.
A player who is 27 but doesn’t want to change his attitude then you have poison. You have a talented player but his attitude can break the atmosphere with the other players.
Lots of people can recognise talent but not everyone can recognise the attitude and the commitment.
A player can always improve their talent, but to improve attitude is not always easy.
I have seen other players in this division who looking from a distance I think are very talented but then I read their stats and see one game in, three games out, another game in and another three games out.
Looking into it more then I understand why. Nightclub, party with girls the night before a game - I can’t have this kind of player.
We behave very well, we have more talent and we stay at the top of the division.
If we want to achieve exactly what we want to achieve then the attitude is the most important. Then it is their physical presence and finally their overall quality.
If the player who is a leader in the dressing room is a top player who has the anger and desire to work hard, then the manager cannot be worried.
Obviously it can be good if you have many leaders, but it can be bad if it becomes too much like a family, where they group together and say ‘this manager we don’t like, we will destroy him’.
In this way it is negative, so you have to be capable to read the situation.
On whether being a great player can help you in management:
Managers who have had a good playing career at the top level have a bit more of an advantage at the beginning.
But after that you have to prove that you have knowledge and that you can deliver this knowledge in a right way and at the right time because players judge you at every moment.
If you have a good reputation from when you are a player then even if you are rubbish the players maybe follow you for two days but after three, four or five days and it is clear that you don’t have knowledge they will recognise it.
Everyone recognised that when I was a player I would receive the good advice from the manager and pass it on to the other players and not do what I want.
For this reason I had a very good professional relationship with all my managers, occasionally I had friction because I was a strong character but not in terms of commitment and discipline.
But being a big name player does not always mean you will become a top manager. Maradona should have become the best manager in the world based on who he was as a player.
Having knowledge, desire, a strong character and a willingness to study counts for much more than if you were a top-level footballer before.
[As Swindon manager] On away game routine:
We travel to almost every away game the night before and for me this is crucial in helping us do as well as we have.
For every team, especially ones like us who did not gel straight away for many reasons, it was crucial because after we travelled together a lot we found that we became more united.
For an evening kick off, they used to travel four hours before the game, two hours to get there and two hours staying in the dressing room.
Now, for late games we arrive there at 12.30pm, have lunch, the players have bedrooms – not me and my coaching staff as I want to save the club money – the players have to rest until 4pm. Then we have a meeting, travel for 40 minutes and play.
After a game, they also all travel together.
It is a part of the discipline and these are the rules. It is not a strict regime and we are sometimes flexible. If a player’s wife or girlfriend has a scan on their baby then of course, this is life so that is more important.
To ask to stay and see a friend then no, they can see their friends when they want but not when we are focused on a game.
On how he spends his spare time:
The only hour I have to rest each week is on Thursdays from 6pm until 7pm when I play five-a-side.
Even then though, when Claudio (Donatelli) or Marco (Paranese) misses a goal we reproduce the mechanism over how it happened to our players.
We take some information and then say, ‘you see the movement we made, you do that and then he will follow you instinctively.’ Similar can happen even in League Two. The other players in the league don’t have the discipline we have in the way we work as a unit and as a defensive line. If we reel a player in like the fish, we can use that to our advantage to create space and attack it.
On his coaching staff:
This is the technical staff I want to work with for years to come. We are a team.
We keep in contact every day, even after the training session has finished. We discuss our individual views about the training session.
Even yesterday, after the training session had finished, I had spoken four times already with Fabrizio Piccareta and two times with Marco (Paranese) to discuss the situation with Paul Benson and Paul Caddis.
I also talked three times with Claudio (Donatelli) to ask his thoughts on the training session and who needs to be in the gym in the afternoon.
We are always in communication and completely a team. The players are amazing but the techincal staff are very professional and have been very united, even through our worst moment at the beginning of the season.
On his choice of household pet:
The man who comes to take care of my piranhas told me that if I left West Ham he would kill all my fish.
On 'tippy-tappy' football:
Tippy tappy, tippy tappy is not my football. [It's] just keeping the ball & allowing the opponents to organise in a defensive moment.
If we keep the ball with tippy tappy, tippy tappy, tippy tappy – then lose the ball, counter-attack and lose what do we have to show?
More on his disdain for tippy-tappy, this time after a 4-1 demolition of Yoevil:
The lads did their best I must admit, but sometimes we were too tippy-tappy. We need to be more nasty & ruthless because 4 goals was not a reflection of the way we were on top for so long.
Paolo would really like to stress that he doesn't like tippy-tappy football:
We need to play less tippy-tappy and win ugly.
Paolo asserting that even scoring two goals in a 4-0 home win won't save you from a public rant about about tippy-tappy football:
He [2-goal Matt Ritchie] was so, so lucky to get those goals. We’re getting rid of tippy-tappy football. I don’t like it.
On his special green hat:
It is special because there is a story about this hat.
I will not tell now why, maybe one day I will explain, but not now.
On managing his players:
With some players, if he has a chihuahua character I can't make a chihuahua into a rottweiler. He could be a proud chihuahua but he remains a chihuahua.
On his touchline passion:
It they want to send me off in every game - no problem. I will win this league anyway. They say 'you move your arms too much' but I will do what I want in the technical area. They can't stop me. I will move my body, my arms, my shoulders, my legs; they can't send me off every time.
Di Canio-approved methods of celebration:
You can celebrate with one, two, three glasses of red wine or champagne, but why get drunk? I don't see why. I prefer to stay cool. Have a hug with your team-mates, or your wife, or girlfriend, or baby.
On his spat with Crawley boss Steve Evans:
I laughed in the face of 70,000 Manchester United fans when I scored, you could imagine what it would be like if I was worried by the words of him who I've never heard of before.
After substituting Swindon goalkeeper Wes Foderingham after 21 minutes:
I know my players, I know Wes — he was the crappy player even against Stoke [When Swindon beat them in the cup the previous midweek]. Today what he did, it's not only the mistake that can happen to everyone. The arrogance later, when he started moaning to the others, that was the worst thing for me.
On League Two promotion and some self evaluation:
The players were the protagonists, but I did a fantastic job.
How he celebrated the promotion:
I was not in the mood to celebrate because I was not happy about the performance, and for other reasons I obviously did not feel happy.
But we came back and went back home straight away, then we had one small glass of beer because I do not like too much because of my stomach.
Then I started thinking about the game and then Monday’s training session because I want to win every game.
On referee accountability:
As a manager, when you go and do the course for your coaching badges they say ‘don’t say to the media that it is my fault. You can use any word than this’.
Now the communication has changed because the strong manager will blame themselves to distract attention away from the players.
Like the manager and players after they make a mistake are obliged to explain why they did something, so should the referees.
After a bad decision, referees should go out and say what they felt they saw. They are human at the end of the day so if they make a mistake, go out to speak to the media and accept it, then they can be available for the next game.
If they go out after the game and give a confusing account of what happened then it means they are not ready for the next game.
On stupid footballers and the importance of instilling focus:
One of them [his Swindon players] said to my fitness coach two weeks ago that ‘If you tell us to train four hours per day we will do this, but if you were a different manager who tells us to train one minute a day then we do this too.’
So, after working very hard for seven months and reaching the top they weren’t capable to say to a different manager who said they could have three days off to say ‘no, we don’t want three days off because we worked hard to reach the top, and we need to continue working hard.’
This proved I was right, and if they did not train every day and focus their attention every day we could not have this result.
Speaking on his possible exit from Swindon:
I am the manager and they are the fans. For this, they have to hope that I will be the manager in the future because it's difficult to find another one like me.
After running the Swindon half-marathon by mistake having intended to take the 2 mile course after being invited to sound the starting pistol:
I couldn't stop, there was a challenge. There were three options, I thought I should start with the fun [run] marathon but unfortunately we changed direction, kept going and followed the first group.
Unfortunately I ended up doing a full half marathon plus 800 metres. At the end I was very happy because I finished without stopping, even for one second. I wasn't ready but I never stopped running. I'm very happy but it was very tough.