Leicester City: The unlikely EPL champions

Ranieri thanked me 5 times: Hiddink

Spurs' Eric Dier (back) fouls Chelsea's Eden Hazard during the ill-tempered game at Stamford Bridge. The match ended with 12 players booked.
Spurs' Eric Dier (back) fouls Chelsea's Eden Hazard during the ill-tempered game at Stamford Bridge. The match ended with 12 players booked.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has revealed that Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri rang him to thank him for handing the Foxes the Premier League title.

"His voice was trembling a bit," said Hiddink. "Five times, (he said) thanks. Because the emotion is going up."

He added: "I think they (Leicester) deserve it... They didn't implode. There was no tension when they started smelling the title. That's why they deserve the title."

Chelsea's opponents on Monday, Tottenham Hotspur, will be nervously awaiting the arrival of the referee's report at the Football Association after becoming the first team in Premier League history to have nine players booked in one game.

At the very least, the club are likely to be charged with failing to control their players after several confrontations marred their 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, which handed the league title to Leicester.

The ill feeling spilled over into the tunnel at the end as Spurs and Chelsea players got involved in a rolling maul, which led to Hiddink being sent flying and his counterpart Mauricio Pochettino attempting to prise the multiple brawlers apart.

Referee Mark Clattenburg had struggled to control order in a bad-tempered game in which there were continual flashpoints, most notably just before half-time when Mousa Dembele appeared to rake his fingernails across Diego Costa's eyes and Erik Lamela trod on Francesc Fabregas' fingers towards the end.

Those booked for Spurs were Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Dembele, Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Ryan Mason and Harry Kane.

Spurs will receive an automatic fine for having six players or more yellow-carded.

Three Chelsea players made it into the referee's notebook - Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel and Willian.

The stakes had been raised by Eden Hazard before the game when he said that Chelsea would go all out to stop their London rivals winning the Premier League.

Interestingly, the Belgian has now delivered the EPL title for two seasons running.

Last year it was to his own team, Chelsea, while on Monday, it was his 83rd-minute equaliser that sank Spurs' title hopes and handed the title to Leicester.

Pochettino refused to criticise his players, saying: "It was a derby, we were fighting to win the title and Chelsea were fighting to win."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri thanked me 5 times: Hiddink'. Print Edition | Subscribe