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Top 4 football fair play acts: Di Canio makes the grade

| 10.03.2014

When describing the modern footballer words like fair and compassionate are not always the first to spring to mind.

However, even in an era blighted by diving, the waving of invisible cards and other underhand acts some players stand out for their honest approach.

The latest to do so is Werder Bremen’s Aaron Hunt who fessed up to taking a tumble in the box against Nurnberg and convinced the ref to overturn his decision to award a spot kick.

Bremen were 2-0 up at the time and Hunt may have acted differently were his side not on course for victory – but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt – and here we take a look at some of football’s other memorable acts of fair play.

Paolo Di Canio – West Ham

11 Jan 2000:  Paolo Di Canio of West Ham in action during the Worthington Cup Quarter Final Re-match against Aston Villa played at Upton Park in London. Aston Villa progress to the semi final after a 3-1 extra time win.  Mandatory Credit: Craig Prentis /Allsport

Whether its pushing over referees, belittling players (League One Wes!) or his supposed fascist beliefs Di Canio is never far from controversy.

However, the fiery Italian will forever be remembered for his act of kindness in a Premier League game against Everton in 2001.

With the game poised at 1-1 West Ham broke and Di Canio was gifted a goal scoring opportunity when Toffees ‘keeper Paul Gerrard twisted his knee attempting to clear the ball.

Instead of shooting, Di Canio caught the resulting cross and insisted the game be held up for Gerrard to receive treatment, an act that earned him that year’s Fifa Fair Play Award.

Oliver Kahn – Bayern Munich


While all around him were celebrating wildly after beating Valencia in the 2001 Champions League final, goalkeeper Kahn shunned the opportunity to join in with his Bayern teammates in favour of consoling his distraught counterpart.

The blow of losing on penalties was too much for Valencia stopper Santiago Canizares to take and he broke down in tears at the side of the pitch.

It speaks volumes of Kahn’s approach to life that he would rather console another member of the goalkeeping fraternity than revel in what was the crowning moment of his long and distinguished career.

Arsene Wenger – Arsenal

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger

The Frenchman’s penchant for looking the other way when his side does something wrong is uncanny.

However, the Arsenal gaffer earned the respect of much of the footballing world for his fair play attitude in the 1999 FA Cup.

The game against Sheffield United introduced Nwankwo Kanu to English football and the Nigerian’s lack of familiarity with English customs landed him in hot water.

When Ray Parlour threw the ball in to United keeper Alan Kelly after a Blades player had received injury treatment, Kanu pounced on the ball and passed to Marc Overmars to score the winner in a 2-1 victory.

While Kanu was unaware of his mistake, the win did not sit well with Wenger and he offered to have the result expunged and play the game over – which they did and won 2-1 again!

Redondo – AC Milan

Fernando Redondo of AC Milan in action

While certain players in the past have been happy to pick up their cheques from the treatment table (we’re looking at you Grampus 8 Lineker!) Argentinean midfielder Redondo broke this mould in 2001.

After signing for Milan from Real Madrid Redondo injured his right knee in pre-season training and was scheduled for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

In the quest for “tranquillity” during this period, the player refused to accept his salary and even offered to forgo the use of the home and car the Italian giants had arranged for him.

While turning down money is easier for superstar footballers than most people, this still stands out as a memorable act from the South American.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.