Newcastle United star has hailed ex-Sunderland boss

Newcastle United attacker Matt Ritchie has explained that former Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has had the biggest influence in his career.

Matt Ritchie has had to work very hard to get where he currently is at in his career. Having been rejected by then Premier League side Portsmouth, Ritchie had to make his way through the footballing pyramid playing at the likes of Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County and Swindon Town among others.

It is at Swindon where the 27-year-old really managed to make a name for himself as he helped the club earn promotion into League One.

During his time at the County Ground, Ritchie was managed by the enigmatic Paolo Di Canio and the midfielder clearly seemed to enjoy a strong relationship with the Italian.

Ritchie has recently been speaking regarding Di Canio and the Newcastle star has hailed the 48-year-old to having the biggest influence in his footballing career.

Ritchie told the Chronicle, “Di Canio had a really big influence on my career. It was a stage at my career when I’d come through the ranks at Portsmouth as a kid, it didn’t quite happen for me and I moved to Swindon. When Di Canio arrived, he brought with him the Italian mentality.

“It was completely different to anything I’d ever experienced. I had never come across this sort of approach before but I really bought into it – the strict fitness regime, training every day and diet was massive for him.

“Di Canio was fantastic for me mentality-wise; he gave me the desire to progress further and the belief in myself that I could play at a higher level. That has really stood me in good stead since.”