Claudio Ranieri says 2016 was the best year of his career
2016 was a wild year all around, but it was good to Claudio Ranieri, to say the least. His Leicester City shocked the world by lifting the Premier League trophy for the first time in history, and the 65-year-old coach says that win made 2016 the best on record for him.
The Foxes may currently be in danger of relegation, sitting in 15th place, with only four wins on the season, but Ranieri is still riding the wave, happy to bask in the unprecedented success.
"I never won a [league] title before, so for this reason it's the best [year]," the jovial Italian told Sky Sports. "But I also can't forget where I started from, like Jamie Vardy [who began in non-league] and I slowly, slowly climbed through the leagues and after 30 years I won the title. It means I worked so hard, and for this reason I'm very pleased.
"I'm also pleased with a lot of people from the club and the chairman because I wanted to come back to England. I love the spirit, the atmosphere and everything around the football here.
"When I arrived I met the people in Leicester and felt a fantastic electricity. The chairman always gave us a lot of positive energy, which is important for the manager and all the staff around me. It was an amazing, amazing year."
Leicester might be struggling domestically, but that hasn't been the case in Champions League. They nearly went unbeaten throughout the group stage, losing their (pointless) final match, but Ranieri knows it's going to be a struggle from here on out.
"We are underdogs because it's the first time we've played in it [the UCL]," he said. "A lot of people say Sevilla is a good draw, but they won three [Europa League] titles in a row! It's not easy for us, but it's a little dream. The most important thing for me was to get to the knockouts."
Still, he's concentrated on keeping the Foxes safe in the Premier League, and he hasn't changed his tune about their goals for this season.
"With the Premier League it's 40 points to be safe. I hope the match against Stoke [a 2-2 draw after Leicester had been two goals down] was right for us and changed our mood and try again to start now."
2016's been one crazy year, but it's good to see a genuine nice guy like Ranieri reaping the benefits of his hard work. Dilly ding, dilly dong.