‘Roma is in my DNA,’ says Ranieri as he returns to rescue hometown club

MILAN (AFP) – 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 the 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.