Date: 21st December 2005 at 9:02pm
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Ex-Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who made 71 appearances for the Magpies, has hit out at his former team-mate Paolo Di Canio. They were together at West Ham, and Hislop (a committed anti-racism campaigner) indicated his friendship with Di Canio is over after the Italian was suspended for one match and fined £7,000 for aiming a fascist salute at supporters.

Di Canio has labelled the suspension ‘unjust’ and insisted his salute ‘has nothing to do with with any political ideologies’.

The 37-year-old saluted his fans the same way during a Rome derby last season, and at Livorno last week. He insists it is a greeting which dates back to ancient Rome.

‘I will always salute that way because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people.’

Hislop: ‘I am very disappointed by it. Paolo never impressed me as that kind of person when he was here at West Ham. We got on very well. He got on well with my wife and my kids and to see him making the headlines for his actions disappoints me greatly because of what those gestures mean and the wider effect of it. Paolo certainly was someone I considered a friend who I liked a lot, so I am very disappointed.’

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi jumped to Di Canio’s defence on Wednesday, insisting the striker is not a fascist and simply misunderstood.

‘Di Canio is an exhibitionist. His salute didn’t have any significance. He’s a good lad.’