Claudio Ranieri returns for final goodbye
The Leicester boss was sacked earlier in the week15:00 Saturday 25 February 2017, 15:00 25 Feb 2017
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has left the club's training ground for the last time after saying goodbye to players and staff.
Ranieri was sacked earlier in the week as the Premier League champions sat just one point off the relegation zone. Despite being named FIFA Coach of the Year just last month and leading the team to a surprise Premier League title last season, the manager was made to pay.
The 65-year-old, however, returned to the team's training ground just after 10am this morning and was met by security staff, who shook his hand.
As he left about an hour later, Ranieri told Sky Sports: "I don't speak with anybody, just to say thank you to the fans (who) are fantastic. Thank you. "I feel good now because what we achieved in Leicester I hope will happen again, but it will be very difficult."
When asked if speaking to the players had been emotional, he replied: "No, no, no, it was normal" before driving away from the ground. His visit came in amid claims in The Times newspaper that a group of his own players may have played a critical role in his shock departure.
Grazie Claudio. pic.twitter.com/edtuLY6ffZ— Soccer Saturday ⚽️ (@SoccerSaturday) February 25, 2017
The players, including Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy, were summoned to a meeting on Wednesday with one of the team's owners Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha the paper said. The meeting took place at the team's hotel in Seville after their 2-1 Champions League defeat and the players were asked for their observations on the team's decline from last season's Premier League triumph.
Ranieri was dismissed at a hotel at East Midlands Airport shortly after his return to the UK after the game. Leicester's goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, told Sky Sports that the reports were "obviously very hurtful". He added: "Our owners are very very successful businessmen who have made decisions in their business lives many many times... "They're the ones who make the decisions. "We don't kid ourselves that we can influence or make anything happen at all."
When asked if he had been consulted about the sacking, he replied: "At no point have they taken our advice or asked for our consultation on the manager's future - that's their job, that's their prerogative."
Speaking of Ranieri's visit to the club's training ground, Schmeichel said:
"He thanked the players for their efforts, for last season. "We achieved something amazing together so it's sad that it has come to this but, as always, a very classy man, very humble, very gracious." On Friday, Ranieri responded to his sacking in a statement, saying: "Yesterday, my dream died".
Ranieri had reportedly told those close to him that he was shocked to be sacked. Other managers such as Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho have voiced support for him.
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