Claudio Ranieri says winning the Premier League with Leicester City is the crowning glory in his career-long wait for a top-flight title.
Ranieri has managed European headliners such as Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid, but it is with the rag-tag Foxes that he has finally conquered the elite.
The Foxes are also celebrating their first top-flight crown, after second-placed Tottenham’s challenge fell away with Monday’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea.
Having taken the Leicester job on the back of a calamitous four-game stint with Greece that ended in defeat to the Faroe Islands, Ranieri insists little has changed in his leadership between that horrendous run and his astonishing efforts at the King Power Stadium.
“I am 64 years old, I’ve been fighting for a long time, but I was always positive and had positivity on my side,” Ranieri told Rai 3’s Processo del Lunedi show.
“I always thought that I’d end up winning a league title somewhere eventually. I am the same man who was fired by Greece, perhaps someone there had forgotten about my career.
“It’s not as if anyone will forget, but I like to point out I am the same man who was on the Greece bench. I haven’t changed.
“I am staying at Leicester. This is a year that cannot be repeated, next year we’ll try to fight for a top-10 place, hopefully. We must continue to grow and to do well.”
Ranieri was flying back from a dinner date with his mother in Italy while the game was in progress, and described his fluctuating emotions as the title came into sight.
He added: “When something happens to you like this, you can’t fully realise it. Tottenham were winning at half-time, so I was a bit downhearted.
“Then when [Gary] Cahill scored, I thought something could happen. I did celebrate at [Eden] Hazard’s equaliser.”