Wednesday 24 January 2018

I was ready for return to management, says Leicester's Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri knew a return to management was imminent before he took over at Leicester
Claudio Ranieri knew a return to management was imminent before he took over at Leicester

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insists he always knew a return to management would come as he prepares to lift the Barclays Premier League trophy.

The Italian revealed he had a suit ready and waiting for interviews last summer before the Foxes came calling in July, despite enduring a terrible time in his previous role as the national coach of Greece.

Ex-Chelsea boss Ranieri was the shock choice to replace Nigel Pearson having been sacked by the 2004 European champions in November 2014 after failing to win any of his five games in charge.

He was tipped to be the first manager dismissed this season but has instead taken the 5,000-1 outsiders to a first top-flight title in their 132-year history.

They will be crowned shock champions after Saturday's final home game of the season against Everton and Ranieri insisted he never had any doubts over his return.

He said: "The first time I came to England to be manager (in 2000) I was in my country house. I was wearing jeans and I received a phone call saying: 'Tomorrow come to London and watch the match, Chelsea could be interested in you'.

"I said: 'I can't go in jeans' and immediately I went into Siena, a city near my country house. I bought everything.

"This season there was nothing I wanted to go to but I brought my suit from my home in Rome to my little house by the sea, thinking 'maybe I will need you - stay there'.

"I arrived and the day after I had to take the suit and go. I wanted to wear the same suit as before but it doesn't fit any more."

Jamie Vardy will return for the Foxes' final home game of the season against Everton after a two-match ban looking to add to his 22 goals but Robert Huth and Danny Drinkwater are suspended.

Ranieri added: "Jamie is a fantastic player and a fantastic lad. For us it was difficult (to be without him) but I want to say thank you to the other players, (Leonardo) Ulloa who played when we were without Jamie.

"If Riyad (Mahrez) is our light, Jamie is our aeroplane, our RAF. It is important to have a goalscorer because otherwise you never score a goal."

Press Association

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