Friday 30 September 2016

Claudio Ranieri pens heartwarming letter on Leicester's magic, pizza parties and the 'horse' Jamie Vardy

Published 06/04/2016 | 15:24

Claudio Ranieri's side have shown few signs of nerves after four successive 1-0 wins
Claudio Ranieri's side have shown few signs of nerves after four successive 1-0 wins

Everything that is great about Leicester's unlikely Premier League title surge has been summed up perfectly by Claudio Ranieri.

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His charmingly low-key interviews have downplayed the expectations on the Foxes all season, but now, with his side enjoying a seven point advantage with six games remaining, he has opened up on this special season.

The Italian, known as 'The Tinkerman' during his time as Chelsea boss due to his tendency to change line-ups frequently, has written a letter for American website, The Players' Tribune, outlining how his goals changed drastically as Leicester continued to chase history.

"Forty points. That was the goal," he said.

"That was the total we needed to stay in the first division, to give our fans another season of Premier League football. Back then, I did not dream that I would open the paper on April 4 and see Leicester City at the top of the table with 69 points. Last year on this same day, the club was at the bottom of the table. Unbelievable."

Ranieri also gives great insights into some of the heroes who have propelled Leicester to the cusp of glory, from central midfielder N'Golo Kante - 'he was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts' to striker Jamie Vardy - 'This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse. He has a need to be free out there on the pitch.'

The Leicester manager's unorthodox style is also explored as the 64-year-old recounts how he bribed his players with promises of a pizza party if they started keeping clean sheets.

But what comes across most of all, is how strong the spirit is at the club, not just among the players but with the supporters too.

"I am 64 years old, so I do not go out much," Ranieri says.

"My wife has been with me for 40 years, so on my off days, I try to stay close to her. We go out to the lake by our house or maybe if we are feeling adventurous we watch a movie. But lately, I have indeed been hearing the noise from all over the world. It is impossible to ignore. I have heard we even have some new supporters in America following us.

"To you, I say: Welcome to the club. We are happy to have you. I want you to love the way we play football, and I want you to love my players, because their journey is unbelievable."

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