Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has dismissed suggestions he will be on a revenge mission when he returns to Chelsea as a Premier League champion.
The Italian has led the Foxes to a shock title win after being 5,000-1 at the start of the season and they finish the campaign at Stamford Bridge on May 15.
He left Chelsea in 2004, after their public chase of replacement Jose Mourinho, having finished second to Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ team following four years in charge.
But the dignified Ranieri insisted he will not take any pleasure in gloating to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who sacked him 12 years ago – but will enjoy a guard of honour.
He said: “I am satisfied, of course, but not in terms of ‘it is revenge’. No, no, no. I am not a man who wants revenge. I know my job very well and sometimes maybe the owner wants to change you because you don’t fit in with him.
“It is good because last time I left the Premier League (in 2004) I went through my players and they made the guard of honour. It was amazing. Now I will come back in the same way. It is unbelievable.”
The Foxes are seven points clear with two games left after Tottenham lost a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Chelsea on Monday. They have been top since January and Ranieri revealed when he felt they could win the league.
He said: “I was so satisfied when we won at Manchester City (3-1 in February). We made a fantastic performance away. Unbelievable. Maybe when we won there 3-1, maybe my players believed in something: ‘Maybe we can win, maybe we can fight until the end’. Because I never, never spoke about this.
“I said: ‘OK, clean everything, next match. Start again’. So when I said to you [the media] we play match by match, it was true.”
Ranieri has already reiterated Leicester’s title success is a one-off and knows they face a battle trying to juggle their defence and a Champions League campaign.
He added: “The foundations are solid, but the Champions League is very hard. Not as (physical) energy but mental energy. It burns a lot of mental energy in the Champions League.
“It is important to bring the players with the same mentality, our mentality. For us it is important to stay in 10th position and try to fight to go into Europe. It is not easy to play FA Cup, Charity Shield, blah, blah…”
Leicester will receive the trophy after Saturday’s final home game of the campaign with Everton while an open top bus parade in the city is planned for immediately after the end of the season.
Details are expected to be released by the end of the week with the council also planning to honour Ranieri and the squad.