As Claudio Ranieri closes in on the greatest achievement of his managerial career with Leicester City, one man believes it was his lowest moment that might have inspired the Italian to such heights.
Leicester are only one win away from winning a maiden Premier League title, but Ranieri, who has overseen the unlikely title bid, might not have even been in charge had Greece not lost to the Faroe Islands 1-0 in 2014.
Former Denmark international Lars Olsen was coaching the Faroe Islands at the time and suggested Ranieri might have taken inspiration from that day as the manager formerly known as ‘the Tinkerman’ has focussed on counter-attacking to inspire Leicester’s title challenge.
“It was an incredible result for us — and we could have scored four or five, as we created so many clear chances,” Olsen said.
“But Greece weren’t bad – they had 75 per cent of ball possession. And now I am watching every week as Leicester win match after match only having about 25 per cent of the ball – so perhaps the Faroes inspired Ranieri!
“It shows that you don’t have to play like Barcelona to win matches. It shows that sometimes it is better for the other team to have the ball and to play on the counter-attack. That’s how we played in Greece and that is how Leicester are playing.
“Greece were the top seeds in that Euro 2016 qualifying group and were traditionally very strong at home – but they had lost at home to Romania and Northern Ireland before we went there, so we believed we had a chance.”
But while Olsen joked that his Faroe Islands side was the inspiration for Leicester’s triumph, he said that Ranieri was winning admirers all over the world for his heroics in the Premier League.
“I don’t know Ranieri, but I am so impressed with the job he has done at Leicester,” Olsen continued.
“It shows that anything is possible in football.
“I have been involved in a couple of great upsets, with Denmark in 1992 [when they won the European Championship], when we weren’t even supposed to be competing in the finals but went and won it. And then, of course, the Faroes beat Greece away and also at home last summer.
“But Leicester’s achievements are more amazing than anything that has ever happened in football.
“We all know that, in the top leagues in Europe, the same three or four clubs will always win the title – well, we thought we knew that until now.”