The former Swindon boss’ alleged fascist views sparked controversy and debate, while ex-foreign secretary David Miliband resigned from the club’s board due to the Italian’s “past political statements”.
Di Canio feared he could be axed before even overseeing a match, but instead Black Cats owner Ellis Short backed the fiery manager, who has guided Sunderland to back-to-back wins.
"For three days after I signed the contract, what happened? I don’t have to go through it all again, but look what happened. He might have thought, now I’ll sack him straight away because he was under pressure," Di Canio told the Shields Gazette.
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"He said: 'Proceed' because you have complete support from the board. From there, I felt even more energy, I was even more focused and even more determined to get the best out of the team and I believed that no matter what the split with fans, I would look to make them happy as quickly as I could."
The support shown by Short appears to have paid off following two impressive victories over Newcastle and Everton, while a third straight win on Monday against Aston Villa would all but ensure their Premier League safety, and Di Canio says he is revelling in his new job at Sunderland.
"Every day I realise that what has happened to me is even more incredible," added Di Canio.
"When I first got here, all I thought about was the team but now I can appreciate what a big moment it was for this club. The decision the owner made was not easy because I was a League One manager; a League One manager.
"Let us be honest about it, I was a League One manager – it’s a fact. And on top of that, there’s the fact that I left in difficult circumstances. People know about that. But if you didn’t know the circumstances, you might wonder about me.
"He [Short] was the first in the top league to believe in me. That was an incredible thing for me and made me closer to him even more because he gave me the opportunity I dreamed of many years ago of managing in the Premier League."