'Roma is in my DNA,' says Ranieri as he returns to rescue hometown club
Claudio Ranieri urged Roma's fans to get behind the team after returning as head coach of his hometown club on Friday looking to rescue their season and seal Champions League qualification.
Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked after the team's last 16 Champions League elimination midweek, with the club's Spanish sporting director Monchi following the coach to the exit on Friday.
Ranieri, who memorably guided outsiders Leicester City to the 2016 English Premier League title, returns to a club which he coach for 18 months from 2009 to 2011.
His contract runs until June 2019.
"Roma is in my DNA. My whole football life is tied to Roma," said the 67-year-old former defender who began his senior playing career with Roma in 1973.
"I have always been a fan, I've been a player and a coach here," he told Roma TV.
"I want to tell the fans, this is a special time. In 12 rounds, we are gambling with our future. We have the chance to get back into the Champions League."
Ranieri arrived in the Italian capital on Friday from London having being sacked by Fulham last month after failing to ignite the English team's revival after four months in charge.
"I talked to the team and asked for certain things," he said after his first training session.
"The team is down, but you have to know how to react as men.
"I ask the fans to support them, encourage them even during the difficult moments, because at the end of the day, the ones who really suffer are us fans."
The players are also reeling after crashing out of the Italian Cup 7-1 to Fiorentina last month and slumping 3-0 to city rivals Lazio last weekend in the Stadio Olimpico.
"The first aspect we have to work on is psychological, because after two defeats and a Champions League elimination, they'll be wrecked," said Ranieri of Roma who are fifth in Serie A, three points off the Champions League berths.
- 'Safe hands' -
AS Roma President Jim Pallotta said Ranieri had been chosen because he knows the team and the city.
"At this stage of the campaign, it was important to bring in a coach who knows the club, understands the environment, can speak the language and is able to motivate the players," said the US businessman.
"Claudio ticks all of those boxes."
Ranieri's first match in charge will be an Italian league game at home against Empoli on Monday.
Club legend Francesco Totti, now on the board of directors, welcomed fellow Roman Ranieri. Captain Daniele De Rossi is also from the city.
"What we need now is a safe pair of hands to guide us back into the top four and ensure that we are playing Champions League football again next season," said Totti.
Di Francesco led Roma to a third-place finish last season, and the Champions League semi-finals, but their last Serie A title was in 2001 and most recent trophy the 2008 Italian Cup.
Ranieri took over from Luciano Spalletti early in the 2009/10 season with Roma struggling and led them to runners-up finishes in Serie A and the Italian Cup.
He resigned in February of the following season after poor results. Seven coaches have sat on the Roma bench since his departure in 2011.
Ranieri's coaching career has taken him to five different countries -- Italy, Spain, England, France and Greece -- often finishing second before his fairytale title success with Leicester only to be fired months later.
He then coached Nantes for a season before taking over at Fulham in November 2018, only to be sacked on February 28.
Ranieri led Fiorentina to the Italian Cup and Italian SuperCup trophies in 1996, and coached Valencia to the Copa del Rey in 1999 and UEFA Super Cup in 2005.
© 2019 AFP