Claudio Ranieri: Cagliari Champ; Leicester’s Hero Says Goodbye

Claudio Ranieri Manager of Leicester City and captain Wes Morgan of Leicester City show the trophy to the fans during the Leicester City Barclays Premier League winners bus parade on May 16, 2016

Godfather Ranieri has retired. Who can forget the man behind Leicester’s epic achievement in 2015/16? The Italian coach announced the end of his career at 72 after avoiding relegation with Cagliari.

Claudio Ranieri, the Godfather of Calcio and the orchestrator of the biggest upset in the five major leagues in the 21st Century, announced his definitive retirement as a coach at 72. 

He announced it after securing Cagliari’s stay in Serie A, the team with which he had started his coaching career in the late 80s. He took them from Serie C to Serie A. Next Thursday will be the Italian’s last match.

Leicester’s Epic Season

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Who can forget Ranieri’s memorable Leicester that won the Premier League 2015/2016? His feat with the Foxes in England had a tremendous impact: Leicester City started as the least favourite to win the championship in the betting stakes and won a tournament with already-established superteams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, or Liverpool competing for the biggest prize. 

But Ranieri built a team with an unstoppable pace, with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, French midfielder N’ Golo Kante, Algerian Riyad Mahrez and the unexpected top scorer, Jamie Vardy.

Ranieri’s Farewell

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Ina video released by the club Ranieri shared his thoughts and said his farewells:

After achieving promotion to Serie A, which we did not expect when we arrived at the club in January, and having been able to maintain the category, I think it is the right time to step aside.

With sadness, because it is a difficult and painful decision, I think it is the best thing because I prefer to leave this way and leave a good memory and not continue another year and do it if things do not go well.

I hope they remember me fondly because we would not have achieved it without the fans. I am proud of you.

His Professional Career

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He had not been an outstanding defender and spent eight years at the humble Catanzaro. But after Ranieri’s  impressive term at Cagliari, he got the opportunity (or challenge) to coach a Napoli that had to process the post-Maradona era (91/93). 

Later, Ranieri spent four years at Fiorentina and enjoyed one of the best versions of the striker Gabriel Batistuta. He won a promotion to Serie A, a Supercup and a Coppa Italia, all titles with the Argentine scorer as a reference.

In 1997, he had the opportunity to go to Valencia, Spain. Upon taking over, in addition to the Brazilian Romário de Souza Faria, he had to confront the character of Argentine Ariel ‘Burrito’ Ortega, who did not fit the disciplined Italian. “He is a lazy person,” he once said in a press conference.

The Valencian team won an epic match with Ranieri, 4 to 3, against Barcelona after being down 3 to 0. Piojo López and the Jujeño Burrito shined against Van Gaal’s team that night. And he left two titles, the Copa del Rey and a Supercup. His success led to his hiring by Atlético Madrid.

Later, he spent four years at Chelsea, which, with the Russian Roman Abramovich, allowed promising investments. He reached a Champions League semi-final in 2004, but Monaco, with a goal from Hugo Ibarra, stopped the blue dream of lifting the ‘Orejona’. There, he coached the outstanding Argentine player Hernán Crespo. 

Ranieri returned to Valencia in 2004, but the results were not favourable this time, and he was fired before the end of the season. Afterwards, he spent a semester at Parma in 2007. 

Later, he had his first stint at Roma. Later on, arguably the biggest team of his career, he arrived at Juventus and stayed for two seasons, but did not win titles, something hard in a big team like the Vecchia Signora. Ranieri coached stars like Gianluigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved, Alex del Piero and David Trezeguet there. 

Last Years

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In the 11/12 season, he coached Inter with Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, Gabriel Forlán, Walter Samuel and Esteban Cambiasso. But he didn’t compete for the Scudetto and was fired again before the tournament ended. Then, he decided to coach Monaco in Ligue 2 and achieved promotion with the Principality team. Later, his most resounding failure came with the Greek national team. He was fired after only four matches! 

But then there came an opportunity that would eventually surprise English football, and Ranieri as well. Leicester City allowed him to take revenge, and he managed to win the Premier League, one of the most coveted league titles, if not the most, a feat that still surprises fans.

Later, he coached Nantes in France and returned to England, as Fulham called him. He also had a short second stint at Roma, two seasons at Sampdoria, a return to the Premier with Watford, and two years with Cagliari until he announced his farewell.

Final Thoughts 

Many of the clubs Ranieri passed through highlighted his career with much gratitude. What about his style? It can be said that he was one of the last exponents of Catenaccio, as his usual system was the 4-4-2 and looking for the counterattack, but also a pursuit for pragmatism because depending on the characteristics of the players, he even used the 4-3-3 and the 3-5-2.

Undoubtedly, Ranieri is a coach with a notable career is of enhanced value because his journey as a player did not make it easy for him to establish himself as a leading coach.

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