LONDON — Am emotional Claudio Ranieri called Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink after their 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday which sealed the title for Leicester City.
Ranieri, 64, was manager of Chelsea from 2000-4 and was a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge despite never winning a trophy. He was replaced by Jose Mourinho in 2004 but has remained in the hearts of Chelsea’s fans ever since.
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On Monday that was clear.
The amiable Italian is a charming individual, a grandfather figure to most, and one Chelsea fan held up a sign which simply said: “Do it for Ranieri” and Chelsea fans sung his name and “Leicester, Champions!” as they reveled in Tottenham’s demise at the final whistle.
They won the league for Ranieri, as Chelsea rallied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Eden Hazard‘s stunning late goal sealing the title for Leicester.
Chelsea’s old boss flew back to Italy on Monday to spend time with his 96-year-old mother and on his return to Leicester and England he will lauded as a hero. His team will go down in history and so will he. Calls continue for him to be knighted by the Queen of England. It is highly likely he will be. He deserved it after masterminding the greatest Cinderella story in sporting history.
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Here’s what Hiddink had to say on his phone call with Ranieri.
“I got a call from Claudio Ranieri and he thanked us, especially for the second half,” Hiddink revealed. “I congratulated him on being champion. His voice was trembling.”
Ranieri is an emotional man who has been welling up after recent wins and as the momentum continued. The tears will be flowing in the coming days and weeks as what he and his team have achieved starts to sink in.
In his first season as Leicester manager he has turned a 5000-1 shot and heavy favorite for relegation into the champions of the Premier League. Ranieri was the bookies’ favorite to get be the first PL manager to be fired at the start of the season.
Now he’s the manager who delivered the PL trophy in the most remarkable fashion imaginable. With, of course, a little help from his old club.
Want to know what makes this even better? Ranieri returns to his old club Chelsea on the final day and the Foxes will receive a guard of honor from last seasons champions, Chelsea.
Chelsea let him go in 2004 as owner Roman Arbamovich didn’t believe he could win the west London club the title.
Yeah, about that…