Chelsea return thrills Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri for Premier League showdown
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 13/05/16 5:33pm
Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri says returning to Chelsea as a Premier League champion will be amazing 12 years ago after his sacking at Stamford Bridge.
The Italian received a top reception when taking Juventus there for a Champions League game in 2009 and can expect a rapturous one this weekend after beating their London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal to the top flight title.
Chelsea players will form a guard of honour to welcome Leicester onto the Stamford Bridge pitch.
"I've been with Juventus but this time is different," said Ranieri. "It's emotional. I hope my old fans are happy with me."
Ranieri joined Chelsea in 2000 and reaped the benefit of Roman Abramovich's takeover three years later by spending more than £100m in the 2003 close-season.
He led the team to second place in the Premier League and a Champions League semi-final, but was then dismissed to make way for Jose Mourinho.
Many Leicester fans and neutral observers were unimpressed when he was appointed by the Midlands club for this season. But after narrowly avoiding relegation with a late run last season, the 5,000-1 outsiders brought off one of the great achievements in sport.
"We want to build a very good team," Ranieri said of next season. "We want to keep our stars, our squad, and then we want to bring in the right players with intelligence and who are fighters."
One of those stars, England striker Jamie Vardy, will have surgery on his wrist after the European Championship finals but well before the start of the new season.
He is expected to be named in England's squad on Monday for Euro 2016 but Ranieri expects him to be ready for the Community Shield match in August between the league champions and FA Cup winners - Manchester United or Crystal Palace.