Leicester City’s Italian manager Claudio Ranieri. / AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
Claudio Ranieri was named FIFA’s best men’s coach of 2016 on Monday, after leading Leicester City to a fairytale Premier League title triumph.
The Italian beat out France’s Zinedine Zidane, who steered Real Madrid to Champions League glory in his first year as manager and Fernando Santos, the mastermind behind Portugal’s Euro 2016 championship success.
Ranieri, 65, said the honour was “incredible” after receiving the prize from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona.
Under Ranieri’s leadership, Leicester pulled off one of the greatest shocks in English football history by defying title odds of 5,000-1 to lift the Premier League trophy.
Having miraculously avoided relegation the previous season, the Foxes rode that wave of momentum all the way to a title.
Asked about his extraordinary season upon entering the award venue in Zurich, Ranieri said: “The little team won the title. It’s amazing and I am very happy.”
FIFA is hosting its inaugural “Best” awards after ending its six-year collaboration with France Football magazine for the Ballon d’Or.