Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes that it will take up to 20 years for an unfancied team to emulate his side’s achievement by winning the Premier League.
Leicester defied odds of 5,000-1 to prevail ahead of the division’s glamour clubs, captivating fans around the world and turning their previously unheralded players into household names.
Ranieri’s side are only the sixth team to have won the Premier League, as the English top tier was rebranded in 1992, and the Italian does not foresee another unlikely champion emerging anytime soon.
“Big money makes the big teams and usually the big teams win, but now we can only say 99 percent,” he said, in comments published by several British newspapers on Wednesday.
“How many years after Nottingham Forest (in 1978) and Blackburn (in 1995) have another team won? Next season will be the same, for the next 10 or 20 years will be the same.
“The richest will win or who can pick up the best players to make a team. If 20 owners have the same money for the players, only one can win and three will go down. That is football.”
Leicester have become particularly popular in Italy, Ranieri’s homeland, and Thailand, which is where owners King Power are based, but Ranieri said he had received messages of support from around the world.
“Now the second team in Italy is Leicester,” he said. “In Thailand, the first team is Leicester. I’ve received letters from Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil — everywhere (saying) ‘Leicester, Leicester, what a legend.’
“Everyone knows the Premier League.”
The football world is slowly coming to terms with Leicester’s extraordinary feat and Ranieri admitted that he, too, is still trying to fathom it.
– ‘On the ceiling’ –
“All the people around the world are asking for Leicester, what happened?” he said.
“But this is a moment you have to leave a little more (time) for and taste slowly like a good wine. Savour it. Maybe now is too early to think what we have done.
“Maybe one or two years could be better to understand, but now it is important to stay high in the world.”
Leicester’s triumph was confirmed by second-place Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Monday and they will get their hands on the trophy after Saturday’s final home game against Everton.
In time, thoughts will turn to Leicester’s title defence, as well as the club’s first ever crack at the Champions League, but Ranieri said that he would not urge the club to make superstar signings.
“We don’t need the superstars,” said the 64-year-old, who joined his squad for a celebratory lunch at an Italian restaurant in Leicester on Tuesday.
“We need our players. You see (in January) we bought Demarai Gray, we bought Daniel Amartey. It’s the same. They have barely been with us, not six months.
“I want to improve the squad without big stars, but the right players. It is too early to say we need five, six, seven or eight players. We have to see.”
Ranieri signed a three-year contract last year after succeeding Nigel Pearson as manager and said that he was in no hurry to sign a new deal.
“I have three years,” he said. “Why do I have to sign a new contract?”
While Leicester’s players assembled at the home of star striker Jamie Vardy to watch the Chelsea-Spurs game on television, Ranieri watched at home with his wife.
Asked how he had reacted to the 83rd-minute goal by Chelsea forward Eden Hazard that gave Leicester the title, he replied: “I was first on the armchair, but after on the ceiling!”