Why Leicester and Ranieri’s success is massive news in Rome

Date published: Tuesday 3rd May 2016 1:03

Claudio Ranieri: Efforts catch home country's imagination

Claudio Ranieri: Efforts catch home country's imagination

Romans may find it hard to pronounce the name of the new Premier League champions’ home – but nevertheless the East Midlands city is now on the lips of everyone in the Italian capital.

“Lie-sester? Lech-ester? Lay-kester?” La Repubblica’s voxpop – conducted on Monday morning – was certainly amusing to English speakers, but why would the locals of Via del Corso know any better?

A day later and the Italian media is saturated with stories about Leicester’s improbable title triumph and bursting with tributes to the Roman who made it possible, Claudio Ranieri.

The Gazzetta dello Sport hailed the 64-year-old for his achievement in becoming the 14th Italian coach to win at least one overseas championship, following the lead of Giovanni Trapattoni, Carlo Ancelotti, Fabio Capello and Roberto Mancini.

In a lengthy portrait of the former Chelsea, Valencia and Monaco boss La Repubblica Sport equated Ranieri’s triumph to that of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

“Now that Claudio Ranieri has reached the end of this story,” read Fabrizio Bocca’s piece. “He has accomplished a feat the size of which even he finds hard to understand.

“It will be remembered a day when small Leicester won the Premier League in 2016, just like when Sir Edmund Hillary conquered the summit of Everest in 1953.”

The Corriere dello Sport’s main editorial talked of Serie A fans rejecting the latest exciting exploits of strikers Francesco Totti and Gonzalo Higuain as they were instead “enraptured” by English football.

“Or rather by the great enterprise of an Italian coach in England,” wrote Alexander Vocalelli. “Perhaps, and we do not think we are exaggerating, the greatest enterprise of any Italian coach.

“Others have coached Ballon d’Or winners and the best footballers in the world. But there is one Italian coach – Claudio Ranieri – who succeeded where no one else has even tried.

“To win a championship, to win the Premier League, with a seemingly hopeless team, that was given impossible odds of 5,000 to one.

“In the jargon of bookmakers, a comma means that outcome can only be a dream, it is put there only out of technical obligation.”

And so popular is Ranieri in the southern coastal town of Catanzaro, where he made over 200 appearances as a defender, twice winning promotion with the club, he is reportedly poised to be awarded honorary citizenship by mayor Sergio Abramo in recognition of his work.

He was on holiday in Calabria when the call came from Leicester in July – they wanted to interview him about the vacancy at the King Power Stadium, despite his miserable experience with Greece.

The rest is history.

It remains to be seen whether another club can emulate the successes of Leicester and their charismatic manager but La Gazzetta claims it has all been done before, by another Claudio.

“There is a precedent,” read a column in the pink paper. “Another Roman, the Emperor Claudius, aka Britannicus, conquered England in AD 43.”

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