Experienced Italian coach Claudio Ranieri was hired as the new manager of Leicester on Monday, returning to the English Premier League eight months after being fired following a brief and disappointing spell in charge of Greece’s national team.
The 63-year-old Ranieri signed a three-year deal as the replacement for Nigel Pearson, who was fired last month after falling out with Leicester’s Thai owners despite keeping the club in England’s lucrative top division.
Ranieri’s previous spell in the Premier League was with Chelsea in 2000-04 — during which he was often labeled “The Tinkerman” for his liking for squad rotation — and he has since coached Valencia, Parma, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan and Monaco. He spent less than six months with Greece before he was fired after an embarrassing 1-0 home loss to the Faeroe Islands in a European Championship qualifier in November.
“I have worked at many great clubs, in many top leagues, but since I left Chelsea I have dreamt of another chance to work in the best league in the world again,” Ranieri said.
Ranieri has been a football coach for almost 30 years.
“His achievements in the game, his knowledge of English football and his record of successfully coaching some of the world’s finest players made him the outstanding candidate for the job, and his ambitions for the future reflect our own,” Leicester vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.
Ranieri was flown out to Leicester’s preseason training camp in Austria on Monday, where he was introduced to the squad.
Pearson guided Leicester to safety in one of the greatest relegation escapes in the 23-year history of the Premier League. The team won seven of its last nine games to climb off the bottom of the league and finish six points clear of the relegation zone.
It was not enough to keep his job, though, with Leicester firing Pearson for what it said were “fundamental differences in perspective.” That decision came soon after three of Leicester’s players — one of them being Pearson’s son, James — were fired after being filmed in an apparent orgy with Thai sex workers, one of whom was racially abused.
Srivaddhanaprabha said attracting Ranieri “speaks volumes both for the progress Leicester City has made in recent years and for the potential that remains for the club’s long-term development.”
Leicester begins the new Premier League season against Sunderland on Aug. 8