Claudio Ranieri admits it was tough to keep his emotions in check as Leicester City lifted the Premier League title on Saturday.
The players were given a guard of honour by visiting Everton as they entered the pitch, after opera star Andrea Bocelli had serenaded the crowd, sporting a personalised shirt, while standing alongside Ranieri.
The champions capped a week of celebration with a 3-1 victory over Roberto Martinez’s side, after which captain Wes Morgan held the trophy aloft alongside his manager.
And Ranieri said that keeping in control in front of a jubilant King Power Stadium crowd, who have witnessed the most re
markable title win in the competition’s history, was no mean feat in itself.
“They [the fans] push behind us all season. It’s amazing,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’m concentrating to be calm, but of course I’m very very happy inside. My blood is unbelievable.
“I think it was an amazing moment for me because I’m not the youngest, and there is another test now. The Premier League, you are champions, it’s something special. I won some cups in Spain and Italy but to win this here is fantastic.
“In my career I always thought sooner or later I will win a title, but at the beginning I never though here would be the place, but why not? This is crazy season, big teams aren’t consistent and we have consistency.”
Ranieri pointed to two key moments in the title race that convinced him of Leicester’s chances: the 3-1 win away to Manchester City in February, and the 2-1 loss to Arsenal a week later, when Danny Welbeck’s last-minute header snatched victory at the Emirates Stadium after the visitors had played most of the second half with 10 men.
“I think when we won at Manchester City [was key],” he said, before adding: “When I lost 2-1 I said ‘we can do something’. If Arsenal suffer so much, 11 against 10, we can do something.”
Leicester can now look ahead to Champions League football next season, as well as the defence of their title, and Ranieri had some words of advice for their fans.
“The foundations are strong. Now it’s important to climb, slowly, slowly,” he added. “It will be a very different season, but the people are dreaming. Keep dreaming!”