APPIANO GENTILE – "A nice quiet calm day," said Claudio Ranieri on his sixtieth birthday on Inter Channel, with all of the birthday wishes he received from all over the blue and black 'world'. "Calm because the win in Lille was very important for the lads' self-confidence, for the Champions League, and now we have to keep this style of play up. Even if the game against Chievo will be a difficult one: we know that; these are players who fight for every ball, they run and they can close down the defence and then reopen to break away, so this will be by no means easy. But for now just let me enjoy this training session, as the guys are working really well."
Ranieri spent the early part of the day on the pitch, working with his players, the sun lit up the field and the Sports Centre and a thought came into his mind: "Today is a glorious sunny day and we have to bring some sun back to our team. I'm sure this team will cause problems for everyone they meet."
But how does one go about training players who are champions and have little left to learn? The coach replied: "I think the most important factor is passion, whoever plays football is a professional and loves his job. It is a game even though it has become a profession, which means it is very stressful in Italy, but we must give these players back their enthusiasm for playing football and that's why I like to involve work with the ball so much in training."
The ball was not only the centre point of training today; it was also the butt of an exclamation by Ranieri: "Don't throw the ball away; the ball is sacred," he told one of his players. "It's normal: playing in 32 metres with two penalty areas, it was all ball control and shooting for goal... so the ball became really sacred [smiling, Ed]. And then they were tired at the end of the training session, so when that happens you need to make them sit up and dot their 'i's every now and again." And off he went with another smile on this day, his birthday, the first in blue and black, looking happy and calm.