Iconic Italian football manager Claudio Ranieri looked visibly emotional as AS Roma and Leicester City fans gave him a standing ovation during their Europa Conference League semi-final second leg on Thursday. The 70-year-old was within the stands as a spectator on the Stadio Olimpico to see two of his former teams in motion.
Ranieri enjoyed two spells at Roma between 2009-2011 and in 2019, and is a native of town. At Leicester, meanwhile, he achieved the unattainable by winning the Premier League with the Foxes in 2016.
He’s clearly a hugely popular figure with each groups of supporters, and at one stage throughout the game between the 2 he was shown watching the motion on a giant screen. It led to an a raptuous reception from the entire stadium, and he reciprocated it by standing up and gesturing in thanks.
After drawing 2-2 in the primary leg on the King Power Stadium last week, Roma took the lead each on the night and on aggregate with an early strike from former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
Speaking ahead of the sport Ranieri admitted he could be supporting Roma, telling Gazetta dello Sport: “My relationship with Leicester was purely skilled. I’m a Roma fan, and that reconnects me to my childhood. I can’t betray my childhood colors.
“I believe overall Roma have 55% probabilities of going through because this time around they’re playing on the Olimpico. It’s great to see a full stadium. I need to congratulate the club on its policy regarding ticket prices.
“If you’ve gotten Mourinho sitting in your bench, you’re in good hands. José said it best last time around, ‘The fans must use their hearts, whereas we must use our heads.’ He’s right. Leicester have struggled and have been less effective when playing away from home.”
He did, nevertheless, praise Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, adding: “Nevertheless, Brendan Rodgers has brought organisation to Leicester, they at all times attack the space to take advantage of Jamie Vardy’s characteristics. Watch out for James Maddison, a top quality player.
“Roma looked answerable for the match in the primary leg. Sometimes they’d to sit down back, but their counter-attacks were at all times efficient, they usually could have won.”