Trapattoni: I wasn't surprised by Ranieri's title triumph

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Giovanni Trapattoni has seen it all. His trophy-laden coaching career lasted close to four decades, following a successful playing spell with AC Milan.

But even though Il Trap spent more than half a century in the game, it seemed unlikely he would have seen anything quite like Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City’s against-all-odds title victory in England’s Premier League last season, which resulted in the Italian’s nomination for The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award 2016. And yet, while Ranieri’s boys in blue seemingly shocked the footballing world, his old friend saw it through a different lens.

“To be honest, I was not surprised that Claudio won the Premier League with Leicester City,” Trapattoni told FIFA.comin an exclusive interview. “After the first few positive results he was able to create an incredible euphoria within the club. This positive ambience can move mountains, especially in British football. Leicester played spectacular football and became better and better from game to game. All this was possible because of Ranieri’s organisation. He deserves the utmost respect and appreciation for his work with Leicester.”

Trapattoni’s own 40-year coaching career took him across Europe, in various roles, winning league titles in four different countries, with five clubs. The legendary Italian thinks a similarly cross-continental career helped Ranieri attain his greatest achievement in football.

“I would define him as a well-prepared, intelligent coach,” Trapattoni said. “He has a lot of experience, coaching teams in almost all of the top leagues in Europe. He was also an intelligent player: an excellent defender, calm and focused, like he is nowadays. He comes from a time when in Italy we played many different types of football. To beat a team, no matter the name, required an optimal performance, and usually a different game plan. He could therefore gain all sorts of different experiences that way too.”

His was a triumph not only for Leicester but also for Italian football.

That particular knowledge, gleaned from Italian football, is something Trapattoni clearly values highly. Ranieri himself played and managed across a variety of levels of the league system in his home nation. Il Trap represented his country across Europe over his career in his numerous roles, and is happy his compatriot has the opportunity to do the same, and spread a positive image of calcio coaching* *across the continent.

“His was a triumph not only for Leicester but also for Italian football,” Trapattoni smiled. “The experiences he’s had as a player and coach in the Italian league made him. This is important for all coaches and for all Italians. We need positive stories to unite us. We’re all proud when we see one of our compatriots receiving such a big honour.”

Who will be The Best?Standing in the way of Ranieri receiving that honour, of being named The Best Men’s Coach, are Fernando Santos and Zinedine Zidane. The former also defied the odds to claim victory in UEFA EURO 2016, while the latter could not have been more different to Ranieri in terms of experience, winning his first major trophy less than six months into his debut senior coaching role.

“It’s true, Santos and Zidane are big names who also had success this year,” Trapattoni said. “But I think Ranieri has a real chance of winning. Sometimes your personality, your hard work and the way you reach your goals deserves a prize. This is the case from my point of view regarding Ranieri. That’s why I see a real chance for him to win.”

So, the big question: will Ranieri once more defy the more glamorous, bigger names and claim a coveted prize?

“He’s a hard worker and sooner or later you’ll be rewarded for your hard work,” Trapattoni concluded. “ we’re all hoping for a victory for Ranieri, because he deserves it.”

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