Paolo Di Canio says Sunderland win over Newcastle a career high

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport at St James' Park
My players were warriors - Di Canio

Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio said his side's stunning win over Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby was the best of his managerial career.

The controversial Italian oversaw the club's first victory at St James' Park in 13 years as Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan scored in a 3-0 win to boost their chances of Premier League survival.

"As a single game, it is the best and most important win of my career, but it's nothing if we don't stay up," said the 44-year-old Di Canio.

Di Canio, who won promotion from league Two with Swindon before quitting earlier this year, replaced Martin O'Neill this month after Sunderland failed to win in eight Premier League games.

But following a 2-1 defeat in his first game in charge at Chelsea, the former Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham striker engineered a superb counter-attacking display that took advantage of a Newcastle side that had played Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday.

The result leaves the Black Cats three points clear of the drop zone with five games remaining.

"At the moment, we can smile, we can celebrate, but now we need to put both feet on the ground," said Di Canio, whose side face Everton next at home on 20 April.

"The result is a massive step, but, in terms of the table, it is small step. We are on 34 points now and we are not safe."

Di Canio celebrated all three of his side's goals by running down the touchline, even sliding to his knees after the second goal from Johnson.

"It's the second pair of trousers that I lose, but I would like to lose my trousers every weekend," he said, adding that he had wanted to run further but couldn't because he was "too old".

"I only have 20 yards in my legs now," said Di Canio, whose appointment as Sunderland boss was overshadowed by a row over his political beliefs.

Di Canio disputed he had deliberately tried to goad the Newcastle supporters with his celebrations.

"I wanted to share the moment in front of the fans, but I never did it towards the opponent," he insisted.

"When I fell down to my knees, it was in the fans' direction, it wasn't provocation to others."

He said he had also wanted to demonstrate his thanks to the Sunderland board of directors for backing him as boss.

"When I turned to face the dugout, it was towards the board because I feel high responsibility for this club," he said.