Claudio Ranieri brings almost 50 years of football experience to his new role as Watford Head Coach.
The Italian has coached in five different countries, winning promotions, domestic cups and, perhaps most notably, a top-flight league title.
Here’s the full lowdown on Ranieri’s career so far, following his appointment…
Ranieri enjoyed a 13-year playing career in the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in Rome, he played for AS Roma for two years at the start of his journey as a footballer, but ultimately made a move south to Calabria-based Catanzaro in 1974.
At the time Catanzaro were in Serie B after a short stint in the top flight, but Ranieri played in the club’s golden era, securing promotion back to Serie A and enjoying five years in Italy’s top division. He later joined Catania where he won another promotion to Serie A, and spent two years at the Sicilian outfit.
His on-pitch career ended at Catania’s rivals Palermo in Serie C1, who were enduring financial struggles at the time. They survived relegation in 1985/86 with Ranieri at the heart of defence, and the then 35-year-old called time on playing football in 1986.
Venture Into Management
Ranieri’s first role at the helm of a club came at amateur outfit Vigor Lamezia, initially as player-manager, but reports from the time say he became so immersed in management that he never actually played a game. He spent half a season at Lamezia, setting them on their way to promotion after a 20-game unbeaten run.
Ranieri enjoyed his first professional managerial spell at Naples-based side Campania Puteolana, before joining Cagliari in 1988. Playing an innovative, exciting style of football, Cagliari were promoted from Serie C, and again to Serie A soon after, where they secured survival in their first season back in the top flight. Ranieri had taken the Sardinian side from the third tier to Serie A competitors, as they reached the European places soon after his departure.
Inheriting a Napoli squad without the irreplaceable Diego Maradona is a tall order for any Head Coach, but Ranieri took up the role in 1991. He introduced a young forward called Gianfranco Zola who had come from the third division, and combatted financial difficulties to finish in the UEFA Cup places.
At Fiorentina, he won both domestic cups and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, before his first spell outside of Italy managing Valencia.
In Spain, Ranieri won the Copa Del Rey with Los Murciélagos and had a spell with Atlético Madrid, later joining Chelsea.
First Spell In England
Ranieri improved the final points total in all four seasons he spent at Stamford Bridge as manager. At the helm during a transition in ownership and overhaul in playing staff, Ranieri steered the Blues to their best ever Premier League finish at the time, in second only behind the “invincible” Arsenal, while also reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
Ranieri returned to Valencia for a season and lifted the UEFA Super Cup, but then moved on to Parma, his first job back in Italy for a decade. Parma, in danger of relegation, survived and finished a respectable 13th, earning Ranieri a move to newly-promoted Juventus, who were marred by controversy at the time. Juventus finished third in their first season back in Serie A, with no team scoring more than the Bianconeri.
Ranieri had his homecoming in 2009 when he was appointed Head Coach of AS Roma. The Giallorossi narrowly missed out on the league title and Coppa Italia to treble-winning Inter Milan. Ranieri later joined Inter in 2011, before managing Monaco, his first job in France.
Monaco were a sleeping giant at the time, and had been recently taken over by new ownership. Ranieri guided Monaco to promotion to Ligue 1, and an immediate second-place spot in the following season.
Premier League Joy
Ranieri’s only national team stint came just prior to his Premier League return, coaching Greece in 2014. But it was at Leicester City where Ranieri finally achieved the one alluding trophy – a top-flight league title.
Ranieri’s Leicester were favourites for relegation but their Premier League title win became one of the most unforgettable and impressive achievements in sporting history. The likes of N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy exploded onto the scene, and this was in no small part down to Ranieri’s management.
Spells with Nantes, Fulham and a return to Roma followed his time at Leicester, and Ranieri most recently spent 20 months at Sampdoria.
Ranieri took over at the Blucerchiati in 2019 with the club bottom of the table. Sampdoria finished the season in 15th, and continued their upward trajectory with a ninth-place finish in 2020/21, at which point Ranieri left the club.