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Next Up - Charlton Athletic & Brentford (Published in Sheffield Wednesday's Official Programme)

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

CHARLTON 30/11, 1230PM

One of the most enigmatic players to grace the Premier League is undoubtedly Paolo Di Canio, a name synonymous with West Ham, but he also enjoyed spells at Celtic, Wednesday and finally Charlton during his eight years in British football.

The then 35-year-old announced his arrival at the Valley by buying everyone in the club shop his shirt and the club shop promptly ran out of the letters 'O and 'I'.

He was less of a goal threat than during his time at Upton Park, managing to score only four goals (all penalties, one rebound). However, his creative flair alongside the industry of fellow new signing Matt Holland helped Charlton achieve a record Premier League finish of seventh place.

Di Canio held discussions with Leeds, Portsmouth and several Italian teams but a return to the Premier League and London was always preferable for the gifted star after he left West Ham following their relegation in the 2002/03 season.

Despite only staying at the Valley for one season, he became a popular figure amongst Charlton fans despite being in his mid-30s.

Di Canio returned to Lazio the following season where he spent two years before bringing down the curtain on his chequered playing career.

BRENTFORD 07/12, 3:00PM

Three years ago, Brentford closed their youth academy. The decision followed restrictions imposed on the club by the Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan.

Brentford were scouting talented young players and arguably too well as English giants were taking their players for minimal fees.

Hence in 2016, they took the drastic decision to close their academy and replace it with a 'B' team. This released the shackles of Premier League clubs benefiting from EPPP legislation and allowed Brentford the opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work.

Abolishing the youth academy reportedly provided Brentford with around £1.5m a year, enough to fund their new project. Now, instead of producing young teenage players to be lured away, they have set their recruitment net for players aged 17 to 20.

The club now seek to recruit the best players they can from around the world and although the seeds have only recently been sown on this bold plan, it is already attracting attention and interest around the country and beyond.

Peter Jones




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