Gary Lineker says he cried after Leicester sacked Claudio Ranieri

The Match of the Day presenter was reduced to tears by his club's decision to sack the title-winning Italian coach

Mark Critchley
Friday 24 February 2017 10:25 GMT
Gary Lineker is the east Midlands club's most high-profile supporter
Gary Lineker is the east Midlands club's most high-profile supporter (Getty)

Leicester City's decision to sack title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri just nine months after the club's remarkable achievement reduced Gary Lineker to tears.

Lineker, a former Leicester striker and the club’s most high-profile supporter, described the Italian's departure as "inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad" on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the decision.

The Match of the Day presenter has now suggested that the club's owners had showed a "lack of gratitude" and suggested that the memory of last season's title win had been sullied.

"For me I shed a tear last night. I shed a tear for Claudio, I shed for football and I shed a tear for my club," Lineker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I just think it's inexplicable to me and it's inexplicable I think a lot of football fans who love the game, but I suppose in some ways you can explain it in terms of a panic decision. And for me a wrong decision and it's very sad."

"It's a sign of modern football," he added. "What happened last season was pretty extraordinary under Claudio Ranieri and I think the lack of gratitude from the owners of the club - and who knows who else is involved in such a decision - beggars belief.

“Yes, in recent times we've seen a few managers lose their clubs after winning the Premier League, but they were mangers of clubs that expect to win titles and spend enough money on their clubs, so I suppose they can justify that and we see it at the big clubs in the world, the Real Madrids etc.

“But for a club like Leicester to win the league last season and the magnificence of that story and the likeability of the club, especially under Claudio Ranieri, the ultimate gentleman, it kind of demeans the club, it takes away from the glory of last season.

“Whereas Leicester were hugely popular with everyone right around the world, to do something like this now I think loses a lot of that popularity.”

Asked if the decision to dispense with Ranieri tarnished the title win, Lineker added: "I think it does to a degree. That season will remain with us forever and it was truly special and a lot of that was of course down to the management. The same guy cannot now be considered incapable of doing his job just a few months later, having achieved what was for me the biggest miracle in team sport."

Reports have claimed that Ranieri had lost the support of some of his senior players, and in response to those claims, Lineker could only 'hope' that the dressing room had not turned against the Italian.

"I would hope it's not true because I think that would have been a betrayal," Lineker said.

Additional reporting by PA

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