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Redknapp defends Di Canio


Filed: Monday, 14th August 2000
By: Matthew O'Greel


Hammers boss Harry Redknapp has leapt to the defence of Paolo Di Canio, after the Italian was asked to leave the pitch by the referee in yesterday's match with Athletico Bilbao for his part in the first half free for all.

Di Canio was at the centre of the row which ended with him, Igor Stimac and Bilbao's Etxeberria being asked to leave the field by the referee.

But Redknapp backed his temperamental captain when he said: "It's no big deal. It just all got a bit excitable.

"The referee said he felt Paolo was getting involved with one or two of their players so I thought it was best to bring him off" Redknapp added. "There's never a boring moment with Paolo around.

"But I was disappointed because I thought Stimac made a good tackle. If anything there were a few fierce tackles from the Spaniards before that and they were certainly kicking us in what was a fierce first half.

"I thought it would be quite friendly because they played at Derby in the week and Jim Smith told me that they played some nice football and were not physical. But it seems to be the norm if you play an Italian or Spanish team nowadays."

The Hammers lost the game 2-1 thanks to a last minute Yeste winner for Bilbao.





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