Claudio was the architect of the modern Chelsea and creating the wider legacy. “Yes, that is correct,” Ranieri (said in a Guardian interview) before adding: “I chose Petr Cech and had been to Eindhoven to take Arjen Robben and I suggested Didier Drogba.”
The Italian secured Champions League qualification in 02/03, no doubt helping to persuade Roman Abramovich, who has a fixation with the Champions League, to buy the club.
He took Roma to 2nd in 09/10 (to Mourinho’s Inter Milan) and took Chelsea to 2nd to the Arsenal invincible’s in 03/04. He also took Monaco to 2nd in 13/14 in Ligue 1. Ranieri is often the bridesmaid, and not the bride, but he has often galvanised sides against the odds, like he has at Leicester.
Ranieri has managed Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia, Inter Milan, Parma, Roma, Juventus, Athletico Madrid, Chelsea, Monaco and Leicester amongst others. The roll club of clubs managed is not bettered by any current manager.
Only Giovanni Trappatoni comes close to Claudio’s 11 with managing 8 top clubs.
The Tinkerman, as he was named in his Chelsea days, played centre back in 363 matches, managing only 6 for Roma, ending with 40 appearances for Palermo. Ranieri is also fondly remembered as an architect at Valencia, creating the foundation for Hector Cupers’ team that got to 2 Champions League finals and led to the Rafa Benitez Valencia 5years later that won 2 La Liga’s and a UEFA cup.
Ranieri’s only trophies have been the two cups at Fiorentina the Coppa Italia and Supercopa Italia and the Copa Del Rey and UEFA Supercup at Valencia. He has also won Serie B with Cagliari and Fiorentina and Ligue 2 with Monaco.
In Ranieri’s autobiography, Proud Man Walking, he describes Roman Abramovich as “everything a coach would want his chairman to be. Never interfering with selections, not expecting to win every single game, willing to buy more players than you could ask for, and always wearing a smile”.
Trevor Birch the then CEO at Chelsea states the following:
“Claudio was so close that year, in 2004. Finishing second to Arsenal’s Invincibles was no mean achievement . And don’t forget that the year that he took us to fourth place [in 2003], the only player that we signed was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer. It was the fact that we beat Liverpool in that final game and got into the Champions League that was instrumental in attracting Abramovich. So Claudio played his part, if you like, in saving Chelsea.”
As any neutral will vouch for, what Leicester have done is nothing short of remarkable, and Claudio Ranieri deserves immense praise and plaudits for his humble eccentric demeanour. “A gentleman and a scholar” and a joy to have in the Premier League.
Claudio is a true native of Rome, the archetypal gladiatorial fighter ridiculed by Abramovich as a “dead man walking” (in 2004) at Chelsea, ridiculed by Mourinho with childish barbs in Italy, but he personifies the famous American writer Mayo Angelou’s quote “you may face many defeats in life but never let yourself be defeated.” Bravo Claudio!