Valencia CF vs Espanyol

Feb, 17 / 16:15 Matchday 24

Actualidad del Valencia C.F.
December, 12 2017

Ranieri: "This Valencia CF side is marvellous"

Claudio Ranieri touched down in Valencia in 1997, during his first professional adventure away from his native Italy. He saw the club change radically, winning a Copa del Rey trophy in 1999 after beating Atletico Madrid in the final.

Years later, he would return to the club once again, where he would win the European Super Cup, but his latest miracle came in the Premier League. Ranieri led Leicester City to an English top-flight title, before moving on to FC Nantes in France more recently. He featured on VCF Radio’s “Som Passio” show on Tuesday evening.

What was your best moment at Valencia CF?

When we won the Copa del Rey in Seville, seeing all of the fans going crazy because we’d won it, the return from Seville to a crazy city was marvellous and it saw me leave my heart in Valencia.

All of the city is grateful for your work, do you remember it all?

Yes, in my memory and in my heart. I am a very sensitive guy and Valencia has been a wondrous city for me, where I worked well and it will always have my heart.

You spent two different periods here, in the second you won the European Super Cup. Were you excited to win a trophy?

The team had reached 25 years without silverware, and the city was crazy, it was amazing. When we arrived back on the plane, we saw all of the city out on the streets, what memories they are…

You’re 66 years old now, are you always going to manage?

Until the very last day that I can. Working in football is my life, as long as I love football and I have the strength to motivate the team, I will continue.

How did you manage to get those Leicester City players to turn themselves into Premier League champions?

All of the world knows that it was incredible, I don’t know how to explain it because we all worked at the best we could, they believed in us from the very start. It was a magical year, it was incredible.

How was the celebration afterwards?

I enjoyed it a lot when we won the cup in Seville, but I didn’t know that I’d be able to go up to collect a medal with the team. Nobody told me anything, so I stayed on the pitch watching my players, and when I saw Antic [Atletico’s coach] going up for his runners-up medal, although I’d won it I hadn’t gone up. Now I’ve put it all behind me and the celebration in England was amazing.

In the offices there is a photo of you. You were celebrating at Mestalla, holding a Senyera flag aloft with your eyes full of tears…

I agree, it was hugely emotional for me to see all of the people going crazy about what we’d done. We’d had lots of good results against FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, that cup final… amazing games.

The knockout stages were difficult, but in the end you won.

The most difficult thing was the first season when the whole team changed, with young players involved. They were very good and I wanted to fight alongside them, whether I would end up leaving or stay, and then I got the okay to continue with my ideas. That team deserved it a lot, and they'd later get into two Champions League finals.

Do you know Marcelino? Valencia CF are having a great season.

They are, it is a shame that they lost versus Getafe, I was cheering them on from afar. I always keep the teams that I have worked for in my thoughts, I am always looking for their results.

What do you think of this Valencia side?

I was upset to see them doing so badly last year. Now I am very happy to watch Zaza, who is a player that fights and battles, scoring goals and I am happy that the fans are giving the team the support that a big team deserves.

Would you like Zaza for your squad?

I like these kind of players a lot, in Italy he is held in high regard, he is a player with character, strength and quality. He is showing that in Spain. I am happy to watch him, when I can I always watch Valencia CF, like the big game where they drew against Barcelona.

Does Zaza have the potential to improve further?

Of course, I think so, because when he does well he feels loved by the fans, he is liked by the coach and his teammates… he will keep on improving. Furthermore, he’s a character, he fights and battles and this is something that he will always have. He is going to improve in terms of quality, and getting more confidence is something really important for a striker.

Which players catch your eye in this team?

I see a team that is very solid, compact, they attack and defend well, they are doing everything as a team. All of the team are amazing, Marcelino is doing a great job to get them all to fight together, helping one another as teammates.

After two difficult years, the team is currently second and the dressing room is taking things game by game. What advice do you have?

They have to be calm. They aren’t in European competitions and they should be calm, after Fallas we will see what happens.

Can they win the league?

They can do anything, as we did at Leicester, but now they have to work, enjoy themselves and not think about any big objectives.

Marcelino doesn’t talk about targets either...

When I arrived at Leicester, the previous season they’d stayed up on the final day. The objective was to reach 40 points, and at Christmas we’d already done that. After, we aimed for European qualification, and when we did that, we looked for the Champions League places. After that we thought, okay, we will try to win the Premier League. We always did it slowly, calmly, knowing the big teams are always there and that anything can happen.

Neto is having a great season, too...

Everyone knows him, he is a good goalkeeper. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have gone to Juventus and played with Gianluigi Buffon.

You knew Geoffrey Kondogbia at AS Monaco…

Yes, I am very happy for him because it didn’t go well for him in Italy. I am very happy for him, he is very shy, he doesn’t speak much, but he is very serious, a great professional and a hard worker.