SAFC v Stoke

Di Canio praises 'unique' fans

by Stuart Vose

Boss on "family in the stands".

Paolo Di Canio described the backing of Sunderland’s fans as “unique” following his side’s draw with Stoke on Monday night.

The red and white army roared their side to a hard-earned draw having seen the ten-man Black Cats trail by a goal at the break.

John O’Shea’s equaliser earned a precious point, and Sunderland’s head coach praised the supporters for their vital role.

“When I hear the fans I feel as though I have my family in the stands, they are amazing,” he said.

“They were so loud for the whole game – they are something unique.

“This is why I say with the combination of these fans and the players’ fighting spirit we deserve to stay up.”

Meanwhile Di Canio has revealed that Craig Gardner has apologised following his red card.

The midfielder, who also tweeted to the same effect following the game, was sent off for a 32nd-minute challenge on Charlie Adam.

And Di Canio admitted he could have few complaints about the referee’s decision.

“Craig [Gardner] has said sorry to everyone in the dressing room,” the Italian explained.

“I would prefer it that players do not get themselves in a situation to have to say sorry for their actions, but we know Craig, we know he has a big heart but he has to learn, he has made a mistake.

“I can’t defend his challenge, it was very bad, but it’s done and it’s possible that it [Gardner’s sending off] gave us the motivation to go on and get something from the game.”