The legend of the coach fights tears
This European Cup moment touches hearts
Miracles happen in the Champions League, Eintracht Frankfurt reaches the final in the Europa League and the exciting highlight of the semifinals takes place in the Conference League at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Spectators defend a legend in the middle of the game.
Claudio Ranieri is 70 years old and a legend of the coach. At least since he won one of the most unlikely titles in recent football history in 2016. At the time, he led Leicester City to Premier League glory in Jurgen Klopp’s first year as Liverpool manager. Ten points clear of Arsenal’s runner-up.
At that moment the star of striker Jamie Vardy rose, N’Golo Kanté reigned in midfield, Robert Huth and former Schalke player Christian Fuchs played defense, Kasper Schmeichel parried what came in his area and Ranieri was in aloof, who became a club legend in just 18 months. Ranieri had other things to do when they became champions in front of the TV with the Spurs draw at Chelsea in early May 2016.
“I’d like to see the game,” said Ranieri, who at the time christened “King Claudio” in Leicester. “But I’m returning from Italy. My mother is 96 and she would like to have lunch with her son. I’m sure I’ll be the last person in England to know.”
Tears are rejected and we cry
Claudio Ranieri is one of those who in his career has passed an incredible number of positions as a coach, usually he didn’t make it, but he left his mark with his humanity and even more so in Leicester. On Thursday, Leicester City played against AS Roma in the UEFA Conference League, another club coached by Ranieri. Then between 2009 and 2011 and again briefly in 2019. The Italian, out of work since being sent off at Watford in early January 2022, was at the stadium.
He was there as a fan, as someone who loves football. When the stadium cameras saw him at the Olympic Stadium and his photo was shown on the big screen, the fans got up from their seats. Leicester Foxes and Roma fans cheered. They left an emotional Ranieri who tries to hold back the tears. Tears then came down from the current Roma coach José Mourinho and perhaps also from Ranieri.
The Roman native had announced in advance that he would keep his fingers crossed for the heart club. Succeeded. After the 1-1 first leg, Roma led 1-0 (1-0) thanks to an opening goal from English Tammy Abraham. Too much for the Portuguese Mourinho, who for some time hadn’t had enough on the big stage of the Champions League, but who is now satisfied with the Conference League and overwhelmed by emotions.
Mourinho’s historic occasion
“Why did I burst into tears? Because I feel what everyone is feeling. It is a great club without trophies for the social importance of the club,” said Mourinho in tears for Roma, who only won the 1961 Coppa delle Fiere which won titles. international. “It’s not a trophy yet, just a final. But it means a lot to them. My emotions were for them,” he added, looking at the 70,000 spectators in the stadium.
In the final on 25 May in Tirana, Mourinho aims to make history. The 59-year-old is the first manager to win the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. He has won all four international finals to date: the 2003 UEFA Cup and the 2004 Champions League final with FC Porto, as well as the 2010 Champions League final with Inter Milan and the 2017 Europa League final with Manchester United. “I have been lucky enough to play in bigger and more prestigious finals than this one,” said Mourinho. “But the way we’ve created a family atmosphere here gives me a special feeling.”
The opponent in Tirana? Feyenoord Rotterdam. The last time they were in the UEFA Cup final was in 2002. There they defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in front of the home crowd. It was the day of the last fight in the career of the world champion Jürgen Kohler. But you can read it here on Sunday. Thursday was by Claudio Ranieri.