As Andrea Bocelli warmed his vocal cords during a rendition of the classic, Nessun Dorma, chants broke out from around the King Power Stadium. Despite his fine virtuoso performance, the chants of adulation were reserved for another elderly Italian. The man to Bocelli’s left: Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri has always been a softly-spoken, understated gentleman. Never one to bask in his own glory, the manager even raised his hand to the crowd, signalling for them to stop their chants and live in the moment; a moment in history that defied all logic and reason.
Leicester City were the champions of English football.
From Tinkerman to the Man
Ranieri’s journey to England’s summit had been a long and arduous one. Fondly remembered on British shores for his time with Chelsea, the Italian’s career had begun to take a downward trajectory. His latest role, in charge of the Greek national team, ended in misery after he led them to a humbling defeat against the lowly-ranked Faroe Islands.
It raised a few eyebrows, then, when Ranieri made his return to the Premier League exactly one month later, taking the reins at Leicester City. To says fans and pundits alike were sceptical at the appointment is an understatement.
The coach had forged a reputation as a ‘Tinkerman’ for his constant team rotations. However, from day one at Leicester, Ranieri vowed not to change too much. The side was settled, having won seven of their last nine games the season before to stage a late, great escape from relegation.
Staying true to his word, Ranieri shed the stereotype and locked in his preferred starting XI. The summer additions of Shinji Okazaki and N’Golo Kanté completed what was perceived as an outdated 4-4-2 formation, but one Ranieri trusted unreservedly.
Leicester is one of the most multicultural cities in the U.K. With its people bound together by the club’s title pursuit, football was breaking down barriers
A Victory for the City of Leicester
Leicester picked up where they left off last campaign and stormed out the blocks, finding themselves top of the table at Christmas. It seemed everyone was waiting for wheels to eventually come off and derail The Foxes' machine.
A loss to Arsenal in February threatened to burst City’s bubble but they pressed on, bouncing back from defeat to claim huge away wins over Manchester City and title race rivals, Spurs. It seemed as though the stars were aligning.
Leicester is known for being one of the most multicultural cities in the U.K. With its people bound together by the club’s title pursuit, you really got the feeling that football was breaking down barriers and uniting everyone under one common goal.
"The fans are dreaming. Keep dreaming. Why wake up?"
Leicester went on to achieve the unthinkable, tearing up the rulebook on possibility to carve their name into footballing legend. Behind it all was Ranieri, quietly masterminding one city’s dream and turning it into a reality.
"We know next season everything will be different” Ranieri remarked in the aftermath of Leicester's historic title win, “but the fans are dreaming. Keep dreaming. Why wake up?”