West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio has congratulated Michail Antonio on breaking his Premier League goal-scoring record for the Hammers – and revealed he once tried to sign the versatile ace.
Antonio grabbed a brace in West Ham's 4-1 win over Leicester City on Monday night.
Those goals took his Premier League tally for the Hammers to 49 goals since arriving back in 2015 from Nottingham Forest.
That total nudges him ahead of Di Canio, who netted 47 times in the top flight for West Ham during a five-year spell.
And the iconic Italian striker paid homage to Antonio's record-breaking antics.
“I’m happy because Antonio is a fantastic guy, a great professional and a very important player. So, congratulations, I am happy for him. I hope he can score even more goals because he is really strong,” Di Canio told Sky Sport Italia.
“He has extraordinary physical skills, atypical I would say. There isn’t another centre forwards like him in the world. Which doesn’t mean he is the best one. He is not just a classic, static centre forward who waits to get the ball.
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“He sacrifices himself for the team and helps his teammates, running behind his opponents. He is like a truck, so difficult to move.
“I wanted to sign him in 2011 when I was coaching Swindon Town and he was at Colchester United. At that moment of his career, he was playing as a winger and during the years, he has become a pure striker. Really well done,” the former Lazio forward concluded.
Di Canio enjoyed success after taking his first step into management at Swindon.
The Italian won the League Two title in his maiden season – steering the Robins back into League One at the first time of asking following their relegation from the previous year.
His interest in Antonio occurred early during his spell in the Swindon hot seat.
Since then, Antonio's career has skyrocketed – as the versatile ace
The 31-year-old from Wandsworth has turned out in a number of positions for the Hammers – including at right-back, right wing-back and a spell as a winger before filling in as a forward.
But Antonio has thrived as a central striker since the arrival of David Moyes.
The deadly ace racked up 10 goals despite spells on the sideline through injury last term.
And now, after adopting the number nine shirt for this season, Antonio has set his sights even higher as he looks to create more history under the Scotsman.
"Last year, I was disappointed with 10 goals,’ said Antonio after the Leicester win. "I wanted 15. Three in two now. Who knows, I could even get 20."
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