Monday 26 September 2016

Leicester's title party in full flow as they beat Everton in final home match

Published 07/05/2016 | 21:51

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri proudly holds the Premier League trophy
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri proudly holds the Premier League trophy

Claudio Ranieri loved every moment of the fitting end to Leicester's "magic season" - revelry that continued into the press conference as Kasper Schmeichel and Christian Fuchs soaked their manager in champagne.

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Nine months since starting the season as relegation candidates and a 5,000-1 shot for the title, captain Wes Morgan lifted the Premier League trophy to a background of fireworks and cheers at the King Power Stadium.

Nobody could have foreseen the Foxes winning their first-ever league title in this money-dominated era, yet their spirit, determination and skill saw them triumph with two matches to spare.

The players, like City's fans, showed no hangover from the celebrations that have been ongoing since Tottenham drew at Chelsea on Monday, with Jamie Vardy netting either side of fans' favourite Andy King in a 3-1 win against Everton.

The party now rolls onto Chelsea and a title parade on May 16, with Ranieri overwhelmed by a memorable afternoon that included world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli's singing next to the Leicester boss before kick-off.

"It felt good," Ranieri said at the end of a memorable day. "It was amazing. I tried to be strong without emotion, so I live better the moment.

"It was amazing when the maestro Andrea Bocelli sung 'Nessun Dorma'..."

At that point a cork was popped, with goalkeeper Schmeichel and full-back Fuchs running into the press conference with the Premier League trophy, covering their manager with champagne.

"Tomorrow, training session," Ranieri said, laughing. "Bad lads."

After a delay in which he attempted to dry himself, he began speaking about Bocelli again and the day as a whole.

"The emotion was at the top but it was fantastic," Ranieri said.

"Andrea when he called me and said 'I want to come there, there is something magic in Leicester'. He chose this day and it was brilliant.

"I want to say thank you to all our fans. In the bad moment, like when we were losing 2-0, they helped us so back so many times, at home, away. Without them it was very, very difficult now to get this trophy.

"And, of course, the more important person: the owner. Without the owner, that wasn't possible, that ambition."

Ranieri has no wild celebration planned on Saturday - "when I was young, I think no more than 10 times I went to the disco" - apart from a little party at the King Power Stadium with the chairman and families.

After that, he will go home to bed and "restart" ahead of the season finale at Chelsea - a phrase repeated when it came to next season.

"I don't know next season what happens because this has been a magic season, but you imagine if Leicester start well again - oof, what happens? I don't know," Ranieri said.

"Now, let me think only of this last match, let me go to the sea, recharge my batteries and we restart next season with the same ambition, with the same humility, with the same feeling."

It was a special occasion and a magical atmosphere that Everton seemed to be swept away in.

A meek display could have easily been punished by more goals and under-fire Roberto Martinez was furious with his players.

"I think first and foremost it is just a day for Leicester City and to celebrate them," the Everton manager said.

"I think they've achieved an incredible feat of winning the Premier League and deservedly so.

"From our point of view, it was a very, very disappointing day. We never turned up, we never understood what was needed.

"I think we felt that we were part of a celebration - it was a footballing occasion that you could just concentrate on what you were doing on the ball.

"We looked like a group of individuals. We never showed the basics that you need in any performance.

"I thought off the ball we didn't have any intensity, any concentration and when you do that against any team you're going to get punished, but especially against Leicester."

Press Association

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