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The Italian has stated his ambitions for the Premier League strugglers and thanks the club for giving him a “fantastic opportunity”, despite his controversial past

Paolo Di Canio has hailed Sunderland as one of the biggest clubs in Europe, following his appointment to replace the sacked Martin O'Neill.

Di Canio's arrival has been greeted with mixed emotions from Sunderland fans and the wider footballing community, with fresh questions asked about his managerial pedigree and reportedly fascist beliefs.

But the Italian was full of praise for the club and the city on his unveiling, and has promised he will make it his "mission" to help Sunderland avoid relegation.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my staff to have a chance to work for one of the biggest clubs not only in England, but in Europe,” Di Canio told the club's official website.

“To work for a club which has over 40,000 people when we play at home is amazing.

“What I can say is I don’t like to promise anything to anyone, because the words can fly away sometimes,” he said.

“For sure the fans should know they have a manager who will work 26 hours per day, not 24, because this is my mission.”

Sunderland are currently 16th in the Premier League and one point off the drop zone, but Di Canio insists the privilege he feels at being given this opportunity matches the best feelings in football.

“I felt at Swindon like I was at Barcelona, because for me it was the best job and a big privilege to be a manager and I wanted to be a manager,” he added.

“How do I feel here? Probably like Brazil in the 1970s.

“I know Sunderland fans are very passionate people and it’s an extra lift for me. I have a big opportunity thanks to the club.

“We want to make people enjoy and be proud of the way we are going to play our game. You can win, you can lose or you can draw, but it depends how it happens.

“We have to honour the shirt every time and walk from the field not only full of sweat, but [metaphorically] full of blood if you know what I mean.

“That’s crucial. It was my philosophy as a player and I want to deliver it as an ex-footballer and a manager. That’s my message to the players.”

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