Leicester City have appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new coach, 11 years after the Italian last managed in the Premier League.
Despite overseeing a remarkable run of results towards the end of last season to maintain their top-flight status, Nigel Pearson was sacked by the Foxes last month for what the club explained were “fundamental differences in perspective.” A number of replacements had been linked, including former boss Martin O’Neill and Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel.
But in one of the most surprising moves of the summer, Leicester have instead turned to Ranieri. The 63-year-old last coached in England for Chelsea in 2004, when he came the first casualty of the Roman Abramovich era. He has been out of the game since being sacked by the Greece national side in November, but he is delighted to be given the chance to return to England.
“Since I left Chelsea I have dreamt of another chance to work in the best league in the world again,” said Ranieri, who has signed a three-year contract. “I wish to thank the owner, his son and all the executives of the club for the opportunity they are giving me. Now I’ve only one way for returning their trust: squeeze all my energies to getting the best results for the team.”
Ranieri has already met his new squad, having been introduced to them by vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and the director of football Jon Rudkin on Monday at their pre-season training camp in Austria, and will work with them for the first time on Tuesday. Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh will assist him for the time being, but he may opt to appoint his own team.
This will be the 16th position undertaken by the Italian, who has also had spells at glamour clubs such as International, Juventus, Roma and Atletico Madrid. He was appointed as Chelsea boss in September 2000 and led the Blues to the UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2004, yet he was dismissed that summer when a certain Jose Mourinho was lined up to succeed him.