'Grand Officer of the Order of Merit': Italy bestows honour on Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri has received an honour from the Italian president after the football manager led rank outsiders Leicester City to the top of the English Premier League.
Ranieri, a native of Rome, was made a "Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic", a spokeswoman for the presidency said on Friday.
Leicester, 5,000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, beat the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal to a win that stunned fans of the sport around the world.
When the English club sealed their victory, fans in Rome displayed a banner in Ranieri's honour in the neighbourhood where his parents once ran a butcher's shop.
The 64 year-old has also managed Italian teams Fiorentina, Napoli and Roma, Spain's Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in England.
Other Grand Officers named on the same honours list include "Cinema Paradiso" director Giuseppe Tornatore, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and businessman Alessandro Benetton.
Premier League champions Leicester City received a royal seal of approval Thursday at Bangkok's Grand Palace, with the Thai-owned team presenting its trophy to a portrait of the king before a bus parade through the capital.
The East Midlands team is currently visiting the football-mad Southeast Asian nation as part of a publicity blitz after its fairytale title triumph.
Day two of the tour focused on Thailand's top institution with a visit to the sprawling Bangkok palace complex of the revered but ailing 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has been hospitalised for most of the last two years.
Local television showed billionaire club-owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, alongside his son Aiyawatt and manager Claudio Ranieri, presenting the trophy to a portrait of the king as they and the team then took a deep bow.
The team later went on an open-top bus parade through the capital's notoriously gridlocked streets.
In scorching conditions key players, including captain Wes Morgan and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, waved Thai flags and snapped pictures of each other on their phones as crowds cheered them on.
Vichai's King Power brand, a duty free monopoly that has made him a billionaire and is emblazoned on both Leicester's shirts and its stadium, ensured the start of the parade route was filled with employees -- including a group of cheerleaders -- decked out in team colours.
Relegation follows a dramatic decline for Schalke, which played in the Champions League knockout stages two seasons before.
Brendan Rodgers' men were wobbling after losing their previous two top-flight matches but produced a dazzling attacking display against the insipid visitors at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester remain in third place, but fourth placed Chelsea would close the gap to just two points if they beat struggling Fulham on Saturday.