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Ranieri takes up new fight with Roma against Empoli

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Hail Romans: Claudio Ranieri returns to the club where he began his playing career. Reuters/John Sibley

Less than two weeks after he was deemed unable to lead Fulham out of the relegation battle in England's Premier League, Claudio Ranieri on Monday begins his quest to take his hometown club Roma to the cash-soaked lands of the Uefa Champions League.


Ranieri, sacked on 28 February for appalling results over four months with the west London outfit, arrives in the Italian capital with Roma in fifth in Serie A.

Victory over their struggling opponents at an expectant Stadio Olimpico will move Roma to within three points of Inter Milan who occupy the fourth and final place for participation in next season's Champions League.

Ranieri was appointed head coach until the end of the season after the dismissal on Thursday of Eusebio Di Francesco.

The 49-year-old was dispatched after Roma were eliminated from the last 16 of the Champions League following a 3-1 loss at Porto. Four days earlier in Serie A, Roma were demolished 3-0 by Lazio.

Goal

"We have one objective remaining this season and that is to finish in the highest possible league position and secure qualification for the Champions League," said Roma president Jim Pallotta.

"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. Claudio ticks all of those boxes and he's very excited to take on this challenge."

Ranieri, who famously steered rank outsiders Leicester City to the 2016 English Premier League title, said he returned without hesitation.

"I'm delighted to be coming back home," he added. "When Roma call you, it's impossible to say no."

The 67-year-old former defender began his senior playing career with Roma in 1973. He coached the first team squad between September 2009 and February 2011.

He 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.

He has travelled widely in that time. There have been jobs at Inter Milan, Monaco, Nantes as well as with the Greece national team.

"I have always been a fan," Ranieri told Roma TV ahead of Monday night's match. "I've been a player and a coach here.

"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."