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  • Claudio Ranieri is Making Soccer History in the British Premier League

    Discover how one Italian is close to making a fairy tale come to life
    Our Paesani

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Former Italian soccer player and coach Claudio Ranieri and the team he managers, Leicester City, have made Premier League history in England. Despite only holding the mighty Manchester United to a tie (1-1) on May 1, the team clinched the top spot in the league for the first time in Leicester's 132-year history after Tottenham failed to beat Chelsea.

    At the start of the season, bookmakers ranked Leicester with 5,000 to 1 odds to win the championship. If the team wins it all, as is expected, bookies say it will be the longest odds win that has ever been gambled on in the history of gambling, according to the Daily Mail.

    Indeed, the impossible is about to happen. If Chelsea defeats Tottenham in the May 2, 2016 match, then Leicester will be singing, "We are the champions," which even coach admits is unbelievable.

    "Once in a lifetime, this can happen," says Ranieri, 64, as reported by the Daily Mail. "Every 50 years a little team with less money can do better than the biggest teams. Once."

    Still, Ranieri probably will be the last to know if his team reigns supreme Monday night because while the match is being played, he will be on a plane back from Italy, where he is going to have lunch with his 96-year-old mother in true Italian fashion, according to reports in various publications. While Ranieri has a reputation for getting the most out of his players and having won some major trophies, including the Coppa Italia, none of his teams have won a major league title such as this one. Leicester will be the first.

    Despite famously coaching Valencia in Spain and Chelsea in England, Ranieri also coached Napoli, Fiorentina, and Cagliari in his home country, where he got his start. Born in Rome, he launched his career as a player with Roma's club, but he only played a handful of times. He reportedly spent most of his career playing for Catanzaro, Catania, and Palermo. While he was part of teams that won promotion to Serie A, Ranieri has had much more success as a coach. This latest achievement just might be the sweetest of all.

    Members of the Leicester community recently made a video thanking Ranieri for bringing the excitement of a winning sports team to their neck of the woods. Upon seeing the video, which included a group of young mean shouting, "Bellissimo," Ranieri choked up and remarked that bringing joy to others is a big part of why he does this work.

    That's the beauty of sports. We all get the chance to root for the underdog and dream a little dream. Every once in a while that dream comes true. So often, nowadays, the underdog doesn't even seem to get the chance to dream, let alone win. There's big money that drives all sports, including soccer, the world's pastime. Most recently, FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, found itself drowning in a sea of corruption. Many of its leaders are facing charges, including bribery.

    Without high-profile signings and the deck stacked in your favor, you don't have much of a chance. But Leicester has turned everything on its head this season. This time, thanks to the leadership of an Italian, the fans of Leicester are living a sogno that no one thought would ever come to life. That truly is bellissimo.

    You can read more about all things Italian and living the dolce vita on the Italian Mamma blog, and you can follow Di Meglio at Italian Mamma on Facebook or on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.


    Article Published 5/02/16
    Updated 5/03/16

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