LONDON: Claudio Ranieri wouldn’t mind if Premier League champions Leicester stopped paying him because what motivates the veteran manager is passion, love and a team who fight for each other.
The 65-year-old — who was at the helm to guide 5000/1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title last season — told The Times he didn’t even know how much he is paid.
“My motivation is not money,” he said.
“Believe me. The money can stop now. My motivation is my love of football, my love of players.
“To try to do the best … I don’t remember how much I earn every year.
“I don’t go every day to train my players because I earn money.
“I go on the pitch because I am a lucky man … and I am doing what I always wanted to do.”
Ranieri, who arrived at The Foxes last year after an unsuccessful spell in charge of Greece, said he’d seen how too much money could bring down talented players.
“How many great champions earn a lot of money (enough to live in comfort for ever), but continue to fight, continue to win. It’s not the money,” said Ranieri.
“It’s the passion; it’s the love. It’s the ambition.
“That’s it. I meet so many players with a lot of skill and they make good money for one or two years and then they go down.
“Down! Why? Because they are only about the money, to be famous. That is not where the strength of man comes from.”
Ranieri, who was so relaxed he spent the hours leading up to Leicester clinching the title (Chelsea’s draw with Spurs assuring them of it) by returning to Italy to take his nonagenarian mother Renata out for lunch, said he liked players who played for him to reflect two of his favourite films.
“I like movies with strength,” he said.
“Gladiator, Braveheart, where they link together, where the group stays together in battle … In football, when 11 players fight together and help each other, they are difficult to beat.”
Ranieri, who admitted whenever his side loses his reaction is to go home and fall asleep, confessed to preferring to stay out of the spotlight when his teams win trophies.
“When, as a young man, I led Cagliari to the Serie C title (Italian third division), all the city was celebrating. But I never go to celebrations,” he said.
“I am always on the outside.
“That day, my little daughter was five years old. I put on some sunglasses, put my daughter on my shoulders, so I could watch people celebrate.
“I like to stand at a distance. It is strange. I am feeling joy. I am happy. But it is difficult to show emotions … I left after one hour because somebody recognised me, so I went home.”
However, he reveals that having been so stoical even after Leicester sealed their shock title he let his guard slip when he went to Italy to pick up an award.
“They showed what we did on a big screen.
“The highlights of the season. And I cried. I cried. And I said: ‘Ooh f***ing hell. What we did … What we did!'”