Claudio Ranieri gave hope to all fans with Leicester title win – Brendan Rodgers

Ranieri returns to Leicester for the first time as a manager since leaving in 2017.
Claudio Ranieri won a shock Premier League title with Leicester (Nick Potts/PA)

Claudio Ranieri won a shock Premier League title with Leicester (Nick Potts/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Boss Brendan Rodgers believes Claudio Ranieri gave hope to every fan and club in the world – ahead of the Italian’s Leicester return on Sunday.

The Watford chief makes his first visit as a manager to the King Power Stadium since being sacked by the Foxes in February 2017, nine months after guiding them to their stunning title success.

The Italian steered Leicester to their shock 5,000-1 Premier League triumph in 2015-16 before departing with the club a point above the relegation zone.

He was appointed Watford boss last month, his fifth job since leaving the Foxes, and Rodgers feels he left a special legacy.

“As well as winning the Premier League it would be the feeling, the feeling the team gave not only Leicester supporters but those around the world,” said Rodgers.

“What that gave was the hope that it can be done and it’s possible to do it. That gave belief not just to Leicester but to every club.

“To see him win his first title as a manager was special as well. He will always be held in the highest regard here.

“Just watching the whole story and the joy it gave people, it was a special, iconic, season. In any sport it is probably one of the greatest that ever was.

“That story is iconic and his association with Leicester, they have a bond forever.

“The supporters will always be eternally thankful to him and everything he did that season. That experience in isolation was incredible, I don’t think anyone expected Leicester to win the league.”

The Foxes face the Hornets after Thursday’s 3-1 Europa League win over Legia Warsaw which lifted them to the top of Group C.

Patson Daka, James Maddison and Wilfred Ndidi scored in the first half to leave Leicester’s fate in their own hands ahead of next month’s trip to Napoli.

Filip Mladenovic briefly made it 2-1, following up after Kasper Schmeichel saved Mahir Emreli’s penalty, but the Foxes were never in danger.

Rodgers is hopeful Jonny Evans will be fit after pulling out of the game following the warm up with a thigh issue while Jamie Vardy will return after being rested.

“Watford have some really good players and he (Ranieri) will be hoping to make sure they stay in the league,” Rodgers said.

“With Claudio’s teams they are always organised and he is an incredibly experienced manager but they will know taking a team here will be a difficult game.

“They have good players, especially on counter attack, and from what I have seen they have been pretty direct and look to be organised when they haven’t got the ball.”

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