On FM Scout you can chat about Football Manager in real time since 2011. Here are 10 reasons to join!

Giovanni De Luca: The Lost Prodigy

Started on 13 November 2022 by Jack
Latest Reply on 10 January 2023 by J_ames

Cisco Roma 2 - 4 Benevento

The full-time whistle ultimately spelled the end of Paolo Di Canio’s long, successful - and without a doubt - controversial career of playing football.

His Roman Salute towards the Lazio fans at the end of his second spell at the club saw him drop down into the obscurity of third-tier Italian football with Cisco Roma.

With concerns the season before regarding physical issues due his age as he was about to turn 40 years old in the off-season in the summer ahead. For him, his eyes were firmly set on his future in coaching and management, with a dream to go back to Upton Park where he had so much success, and lead West Ham United to glory on the touchline.

Di Canio had applied to begin his coaching career by learning at Coverciano, the central training complex and headquarters of the Italian Football Federation.

The road to managing elite football clubs was made difficult due to Di Canio’s political affiliations towards the extreme right, highlighting his admiration of fascist leader Benito Mussolini and his attendance at the funeral of Paolo Signorelli who had involvement in the neo-fascist massacre in Bologna in 1980.

The Cisco Roma fans applauded the forward as he did a lap of honour around all four corners of the stadium before joining his teammates in the changing rooms at Stadio Flaminio following his side’s 4-2 defeat to Benevento.

Di Canio had scored 17 goals in 53 matches with his final club in Serie C2, a good return for a player that had clearly lost his legs some years before.

“It’s been an honour, Paolo” said his strike partner Daniel Bogdanović - who would later go on to make his own name in England like Di Canio, playing for the likes of Barnsley, Sheffield United, Blackpool and Notts County across various levels of the Football League.

However, it was common knowledge across the squad that it was the young 21-year-old midfielder Giovanni De Luca who admired the arrival of Di Canio the most, with the veteran almost taking the Milan-born youngster under his wing upon his arrival, teaching him certain moves and educating him on how to spot perfect passes for strikers’ runs.

De Luca was an average Serie C footballer with the possibility to push his talent to a Serie B club, but he never had the potential to play at the top level of the game and he knew that himself without needing to be told, despite Di Canio’s belief in him.

The pair embraced, a resemblance of the old guard of Italian football joined with the new generation, fresh off the back of success in the 2006 World Cup Final against France.

For De Luca, he had grown up in Monza, near Milan and had played for local clubs before moving to Rome in the same year that Paolo Di Canio had joined Cisco Roma. He loved playing football, he loved the fans and the tight-knit community feeling that came with playing at this level.

But Giovanni also knew that there was no real potential for earning a living at this level of football as Cisco Roma only paid him €700 per month to play, meaning that he had to take up other jobs on the side in the city of Rome just to pay his bills.

He would keep playing football, obviously, but he would also keep an eye on the coaching scene and particularly follow Di Canio’s path in coaching as a trailblazer for his own future full-time career beyond Cisco Roma.

Di Canio wasn’t aware of Giovanni’s ambitions but he knew that he had enough drive to achieve a lot both on and off the pitch.

For now, the two simply enjoyed the moment, with Di Canio taking the team out in the city to celebrate the end of an illustrious career in football that entertained so many.


An interesting introduction to the story, and its main character. I wonder if Paolo also helped to shape Giovanni's political beliefs!? I'm definitely intrigued to see where you go with this, and a part of me is hoping that if Giovanni does turn out to be a crazy right-wing fascist... that he ends up at Beitar Jerusalem: the most hated (and racist) club in the world.

How crazy are we gonna get!?!?

Closing The Doors

Within the space of the two years from when De Luca joined, Cisco Calcio Roma had become Atletico Roma following a merger between them and the famous Italian academy A.S. Lodigiano, known for introducing the likes of Francesco Totti and David Di Michele into the game.

However, just one year later the club found itself without a playing field due to the renovation of Stadio Flaminio and being unable to find an alternative, Cisco Roma alongside Ravenna were excluded from Lega Pro Prima Divisione by the decision of the Federal Council of Italian Football Federation.

This left a number of the playing squad without a club and without a solid future in football ahead of them. Particularly those over a certain age which other lower league clubs did not find a suitable fit.

When told by the management and the directors of the club, they were shocked having heard rumours of a new site being found to continue the new season in.

Giovanni completed his day’s work delivering for the local take-out business near his home, riding his motorcycle all over the city before returning home once the restaurant had closed for the evening at around 11:30pm.

With a bottle of beer in hand, he looked at it depressingly, realising that life and his finances were about to become much more difficult.

Sat at his kitchen table, watching the evening television pass him by with the empty bottles of beer beginning to cover the table, a half-drunken thought had crossed his mind as he looked over to his landline phone.

“Paolo?” Giovanni asked as the dialling tone halted and he heard the fumbling on the other end of the line.

“Giovanni?” replied Di Canio “How are you, friend? I have been keeping updated on the Atletico situation. How is it looking?”

Di Canio had applied for the vacant West Ham United managerial role in the summer after his retirement in 2008 following the resignation of Alan Curbishley and had appeared at Upton Park for testimonial games and to open ‘The Paolo Di Canio Lounge’ in the West Stand at the same stadium, unveiling the plaque himself.

“Well, they came in, sat us down with big smiles on their faces…” Giovanni paused as he took another swig of beer. “Then they told us the club is finished. To find new clubs. You know me, Paolo, I never set the world alight. I’m going to struggle.

“I need help.” Giovanni admitted, desperately.

“Not promising anything yet, Gio, it seems like perfect timing to be calling me. But, give me one week and I think I might have something for you. Might be less time, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do. It could involve you having to pack luggage, so be aware.” Paolo said, before hanging up the phone as the two exchanged goodbyes.

James: We'll find out more about Giovanni's affiliation and friendship with such a figure as time goes on :D
Interesting start to the story of Gio de Luca! Excited to see what Paolo has in store for him!
Paolo is building a paramilitary outfit, and will install Giovanni as his "head psychopath" imo.

In all seriousness, it's nice to see a player being honest about his performances and capabilities, and it's even better to see that even though they were no longer at the same club... Paolo is still looking after him.

Di Canio appointed Swindon Town manager

Former West Ham striker Paolo Di Canio has sealed a remarkable return to English football as manager of League Two outfit Swindon Town.

The eccentric 42-year-old Italian agreed to take over the newly relegated club last week and was officially unveiled today.

A club statement read: ‘Swindon Town FC is delighted that it has reached agreement with Paolo Di Canio to become the club’s new manager.

‘Paolo will complete his media duties in Italy this weekend before flying to the United Kingdom on Monday 23rd May 2011 to complete the necessary paperwork and be formally introduced.

‘The Board of Swindon Town Football Club is committed to returning to League One at the earliest opportunity and is confident that Paolo will build a team with a new level of passion, pride and professionalism to ensure that this is achieved.’

Di Canio is said to have impressed the interim chairman Jeremy Wray during talks last week and yesterday said: ‘I believe my future will be in England

‘In the next few days something will happen, perhaps in a lower division’

Swindon had drawn up a shortlist including former Liverpool midfielder Dietmarr Hamann and ex-Scotland manager George Burley but bookies suspended odds on Di Canio last night.

Swindon have not been afraid to take risks in the past, having offered platforms to inexperienced managers like Glenn Hoddle, Dennis Wise and Steve McMahon, but if Di Canio’s management style is anything like his personality as a player, they can expect fireworks.

Di Canio, who was working as a pundit in his native Italy, has been keen to move into the coaching side of the game for some time. However, many expected his managerial bow to possibly be made higher up in the pyramid.

Having played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan, with whom he won the Serie A title, he moved to Celtic in 1996.

A two-year spell at Sheffield Wednesday followed before a switch south to West Ham United in 1999 where he enjoyed huge success and lit up the Premier League, remaining idolised by the Upton Park faithful to this day.

He swapped West Ham for a brief spell with Charlton in 2003 before returning to Rome and spells with Lazio and Cisco Roma, the latter recently excluded from entry into the Italian league system this season and for the foreseeable future.

He will now take the reins at Swindon, attempting to guide the club back into England’s third tier at the first time of asking.

NTB: Well he may have a job for him after all!
James: There's some camaraderie between the two for sure! Nothing is in doubt when it comes to the paramilitary side, even if it based out of Swindon ;)
I remember this happening irl and thinking "wtf!?" at the time. There's been so many stories online via podcasts, etc. sharing some mental experiences from players who've played under him. I'm intrigued to see where Giovanni fits into things from here, but look forward to finding out.

Who wins in a fist fight: Neil Godwin or Paolo di Canio?
So Di Canio ended up at Swindon, where will this take Giovanni De Luca though?
I'm certainly keen to see what Di Canio's management style will be as well hehe

Backroom trio join Di Canio at Swindon

Swindon Town have announced the arrivals of three members of backroom staff that will join Paolo Di Canio at the County Ground.

Former Internazionale Campus Abroad coach Fabrizio Piccareta will join the club as Di Canio’s right-hand man on the touchline with his experience leading back to management of Serie D/A outfit Unione Sanremese where he obtained his UEFA B License.

However, on the training pitch former Lazio and Reggina coach Claudio Donatelli joins as a coach alongside one of Di Canio’s former teammates at his final playing club, with Atletico Roma midfielder Giovanni De Luca finishing his playing days aged 24 to gain his national coaching license in Italy.

Upon his arrival, new assistant manager Piccareta told the press that he and Di Canio were looking to install Italian methodology behind the League Two’s training scheduling and dynamics.

“We want the fans to know that we are not bringing every ideal of Italian football to Swindon. It will not be boring, we promise that.” Piccareta said.

“Paolo and I want to bring a philosophy of good football with a strong identity, so much so that those who watch us every week know what our players are going to do with the ball.

“We share the same philosophy and this is a big moment for us in our coaching careers. I am very proud to join him.”

Not much is known of Giovanni De Luca’s past in football, with insiders saying that Di Canio built up a great bond with the former midfielder and that De Luca’s passion was to follow the former West Ham forward into coaching following the exclusion of his old team from the Italian league system earlier this summer.

James: Di Canio is not the most vanilla player to grace the field or the touchline for that matter. If we're doing Godwin vs a Fascist? The English already answered that question in 1945 ;)
NTB: He's along for the ride it seems! :P

Di Canio: ‘I am the best manager’

Following a 5-0 rout over Port Vale, Swindon Town were crowned the League Two champions at the first time of asking under manager Paolo Di Canio.

Di Canio secured the title in style with a second-half goal blitz at the County Ground, in a performance showing why he and his players are the best in the division, according to the Italian.

The Town manager said he will allow himself and his squad to enjoy the success until they return after a short break, but the former striker is already thinking ahead to Swindon’s promotion from League One next season.

“At the moment I can be called a champion with my players, and even if someone is negative with me I can say I am the best manager in the league. It is not my opinion,” he said.

“Not just in the league, we reached the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and got to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. It simply confirms that I am the best manager.”

Di Canio shared his celebrations with his backroom staff at full-time, seen in an embrace with his assistant manager Fabrizio Piccareta and his coaches Claudio Donatelli, Giovanni De Luca and Neil Godwin.

He then ran onto the pitch to join his players in celebration, sharing a moment with them all individually.

Swindon is sooooooo FM22 ;) ! Here's hoping that the taste of this success has encouraged Giovanni to branch out on his own, and have a crack at this management stuff.

Paolo Di Canio resigns as Swindon manager

Paolo Di Canio has resigned as manager of the League One side Swindon Town.

In a statement issued personally by the Italian, he cited “a number of broken promises” and claimed that his role as manager became untenable with uncertainty continuing to surround the club’s ownership.

Swindon’s board responded that they were disappointed by Di Canio’s decision at what was such an important time for the club. The board also confirmed that coaches Claudio Donatelli and Giovanni De Luca also tendered their resignations, but assistant manager Fabrizio Piccareta would be left in temporary charge of the club’s first-team.

Di Canio first claimed that he was considering his future at the County Ground with the forced sale of Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth. He then went on to tell the press that his future was unclear at Swindon, stating that the players and the fans were the only things keeping him at the club.

The news comes as a blow for Swindon as Di Canio had steered the club into 6th place in their first season back in League One following their League Two title win last season.

James: It's the blandest place to get stuck in as well :)) Gio will get the experience for sure, it's an important first step into the coaching landscape.

Next Steps

“What next though, Paolo?” asked Giovanni.

It had been two weeks since Giovanni received his last paycheck from Swindon and he also needed to know how to act when it came to his living arrangements as he was still living in the town meanwhile Di Canio had gone back to his home country.

“We’ll have something, there is no doubt about that. Swindon proved to us that there are directors willing to take a chance on me and that being the case, it naturally means we all have work.” Di Canio replied on the other end of the phone.

“How is your coaching license going? We may need a step up and I want to be solid on requirements if the opportunity demands it.” Paolo asked

“They said it should be just one more week until they hand me the UEFA C License, it won’t be any problem I imagine.” Giovanni said.

Di Canio then went on to explain that he would prefer to stay in England and that Giovanni should not look to move back to Italy, hinting that a top-level English club had given him notice that he may be needed to come in and take over from a struggling manager.

Giovanni had to trust him as he literally could not afford another month without a position in a role. Despite his skills, he was not sure if another role anywhere else in this country could match up to his living standards whilst contracted at Swindon Town.

It's always a risky strategy to follow someone from job to job, especially someone as fiery as Paolo. It could be time for Giovanni to keep an eye on vacancies for himself, so that if Paolo explodes... he's not relying on another club giving Paolo a call!

Paolo Di Canio appointed Sunderland head coach

Paolo Di Canio has been appointed as the head coach of Sunderland.

The 44-year-old Italian, who succeeds Martin O'Neill, has agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

Di Canio, who led Swindon Town to promotion from League Two last season but resigned in February, has no top-flight managerial experience.

The Black Cats sacked O'Neill on Saturday after a run of poor results left them only one point above the relegation zone with seven games left.

Sunderland chairman Ellis Short said: "Paolo is very excited 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."

Di Canio has brought with him three of his old Swindon Town coaching staff, with Fabrizio rejoining him as his assistant meanwhile Claudio Donatelli and Giovanni De Luca sign contracts to become first-team coaches, the latter just qualifying for his UEFA C License last week.

However, Di Canio's appointment has already caused controversy around the club, prompting former British foreign secretary David Miliband to resign his post as vice-chairman of Sunderland.

The former Labour Party leadership candidate said: "In the light of the new manager's past political statements, I think it is right for me to step down."

In the past, Di Canio has admitted to having fascist leanings, telling an Italian news agency in 2005: "I am a fascist, not a racist."

A miners’ welfare group has also began protesting against Di Canio’s appointment, with the Durham Miners’ Association sending a letter to the club urging the Sunderland board to join it’s anti-fascist campaign in the light of the arrival of the Italian.

Sunderland are on a run of eight games without a win, with their last league victory coming at Wigan Athletic on 19 January.

James: With this being Paolo's last role in management so far, it makes you wonder if it will advance along with Giovanni's career from here too...

You are reading "Giovanni De Luca: The Lost Prodigy".

FMS Chat

hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.