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Claudio Ranieri: Premier League winner to end ‘Oscar-winning story’ as Cagliari manager, could retire

Cagliari say there are 'tears of joy and gratitude' for the man who started his managerial career at the Italian club 35 years ago, while Ranieri has previously said the role would be his last in coaching

Football manager Claudio Ranieri

Former Premier League winner Claudio Ranieri has announced he is “reluctantly” stepping down as Cagliari manager at the end of the season in a move which could end the 72-year-old’s five-decade coaching career.

Having confirmed Cagliari’s Serie A safety with a 2-0 win at Sassuolo on Sunday, Italian Ranieri will lead the club for the final time in their closing match of the campaign at home to Fiorentina on Thursday.

“You have been my refuge for years,” Ranieri said of the club where he first took charge as a 37-year-old in 1988, guiding Cagliari from the third division to the top flight.

“I am leaving reluctantly but it is right to do so now. It was a hard and painful decision. I hope I have represented Sardinia at its best. I’m leaving after a promotion and salvation. I prefer to leave like this; I don’t want to tarnish these years.”

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After leaving Watford in 2022, Ranieri returned to Cagliari at the start of 2023 and steered them back to Serie A via the play-offs last season.

“In his two spells with the club, he always managed to lead the team to achieve their original objective,” said a club statement. “Already the mastermind behind two successive promotions in the past and survival in the top flight, in the last year-and-a-half he has put together yet another masterpiece.

“It is the closure of a full circle. Staying up in Serie A, exactly like it was 31 years ago, again in Emilia-Romagna, one game before the end of the season.

“It’s like we’ve been watching a movie – an Oscar-winning one, one that wins you over with its perfect screenplay. One of those that makes you laugh but also moves you and makes you feel emotional.

“These are tears of joy and gratitude for the man who was able to write some of the most beautiful scripts in Cagliari’s history. What he did will remain indelible in the hearts of every supporter.”

Claudio Ranieri record

Ranieri oversaw one of the greatest achievements in sporting history in 2016 when his Leicester City side won the Premier League in a huge underdog triumph which odds compilers had considered all but impossible.

The former defender spent the first 11 years of his coaching career in his homeland – including a spell with Fiorentina – before joining Atletico Madrid and spending four years at Chelsea from 2000.

His subsequent clubs included Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan, Fulham and Sampdoria, as well as a brief reign as Greece manager.

“I have decided that Cagliari will be the last team I will coach,” Ranieri told Calcio Mercato in 2023. “I would only make an exception for an intriguing international job, and I would like to point out that I am not applying for the Azzurri [Italy] bench.

“Yes, I will stop in Cagliari, but I don’t know when. Maybe I’ll last 20 years. Jokes aside, this is the right place to stop, I feel like I’m finally closing a circle.

“My career began here, because when Cagliari appointed me – a young player with no experience, 35 years ago – it was the bet of my life. I could have burned myself; at the time, I didn’t even know if I would be a coach.

“We started with the idea of ​​trying to return to Serie B within a couple of years, but in those two years we went from C to A. Since then, I’ve had Cagliari inside me.”

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Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.