Claudio Ranieri hails Leicester’s spirit and character after comeback win

first_img “My players were fantastic – fantastic spirit and character,” said the affable Italian. “At 2-0 I look at my players and they still believe it is possible. That is the spirit I love. The players believed in something good as a group and that is what I want. “You can lose, of course, but it is important to fight until the end of the match. This victory is important to restart well after the break and to get three points is fantastic.” Labelled ‘the Tinkerman’ from his previous spell in England with Chelsea a decade ago, Ranieri’s return has actually been notable for his lack of changes. Sunday was the first time he had swapped more than one player from the previous starting line-up, as Gokhan Inler was handed his full Barclays Premier League debut in place of Andy King and Shinji Okazaki replaced Ngolo Kante. But it was his changes during the game that helped swing things back Leicester’s way, introducing Dyer at half-time and moving Riyad Mahrez into a more central role before bringing on Leonardo Ulloa and Kante immediately after Villa went 2-0 ahead. The 63-year-old received a lot of credit for the changes he made but he was quick to deflect the praise back on to his players. “I saw that the team wanted something different, to keep the spirit going,” he said. Press Association The Foxes looked like losing their unbeaten start to the season after a couple of wonderful curling efforts from Jack Grealish, his first goal for Villa, and Carles Gil put the visitors firmly in the driving seat with less than half an hour to go. But goals from Ritchie De Laet, whose effort was given with the aid of goal-line technology, Jamie Vardy and substitute Nathan Dyer, making his debut following his loan arrival from Swansea during the international break, saw Ranieri’s men snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Claudio Ranieri hailed the spirit and character of his players after seeing Leicester stage a remarkable comeback to defeat Midlands rivals Aston Villa 3-2. “It gave motivation to the team and it was good. I told the players they were keeping the ball better than us but if we played together we could do something good, and the players did it – they did it all. “I have a lot of experience but I said to the players that this group is fantastic and we must play this way every match because we are in this way.” All those months spent last season towards the foot of the table now seem like a distant memory with Leicester up to second after this victory. However, once again maintaining the club’s top-flight status remains the aim for Ranieri. “I talk to the players and say we have 11 points – we need another 29,” he added. “I don’t know when we will achieve this, which month, but the sooner the better it is possible. This is our goal only at the moment. “I don’t think about what we can do, I just want the best.” Dyer’s brave late header completed the fightback. The winger remained on the floor for a couple of minutes after clattering into goalkeeper Brad Guzan when heading the 89th-minute clincher, but eventually got to his feet to take the acclaim. And Ranieri reserved some special praise for his latest signing. He said: “It was very brave but every time he received the ball it was good for the team.” For just over and hour it was probably Villa’s best performance of the season but they remain without a league win since the opening day of the season and manager Tim Sherwood could not hide his dejection. “I’ve never felt this bad, ever. Who cares? Who cares if we played well?” he said. “I’m bitterly disappointed for everyone associated with the club because the game is won with around 30 minutes to go. “The game was done, it was finished with us 2-0 up. At this level the game should be dead and buried but unfortunately we’ve made some unforced errors and it has cost us the game. “Individual errors. It has been happening a bit this season but it needs to stop happening. “Those goals for Leicester, they haven’t had to work very hard for them. “The first goal gives them the momentum and unfortunately we couldn’t wrestle it back off them. The only way you can do that is by keeping the ball off them and we just kept giving it back to them. It was not good enough.” last_img read more

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Budmayr chases new dream as coach

first_imgAfter a series of injuries derailed his playing career, Jon Budmayr has embraced his role as a player-coach.[/media-credit]It isn’t easy chasing after a dream, especially when that dream is to play in the National Football League. It’s even harder to give up that dream after putting so much hard work and commitment into one goal.This offseason, Wisconsin redshirt senior quarterback Jon Budmayr had to come to terms with his body that has proved unable to keep up with the grind of Division I college football.The Illinois native has dealt with nerve issues in his elbow almost his entire career at Wisconsin – an issue that sidelined him for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Just as he persevered through injury in the past, Budmayr tried to give his goal of starting for the Badgers one more go.“I decided to try it one more time and come back this spring and do winter workouts and see where that got me,” Budmayr said. “A few weeks in, my body just wasn’t responding. More issues were popping up neurologically. At that point, I decided my playing was over.”It was not an easy decision for the four-year veteran to come to terms with-never getting a chance to start a game under center for the cardinal and white. But after praying about it and talking with his parents and people close to him, Budmayr was able to accept his decision to move on from playing football.“It was one of the tougher decisions I’ve made in my life,” Budmayr said. “It was emotional just because you put so much into it, which I have my whole life. You work for so hard for – all of us have the common goal and that’s to be a professional football player someday, since we were little.”During his career, Budmayr was able to play in only three games where he threw for 134 total yards and a touchdown.After hanging up his pads, the ex-signal caller is now pursuing his next dream of becoming a football coach.“I got with [head] coach [Gary] Andersen and talked to him about [a coaching] opportunity and he was unbelievably positive about it,” Budmayr said. “He granted me the opportunity to [be a player-coach]. Now it’s just moving forward with this and being a sponge and learning as much as I can.”Budmayr will add a not-so-new face to a revamped coaching staff brought in by Andersen. The ex-quarterback has started his UW coaching career assisting the staff’s newest hire, Jeff Geynk, with the tight ends and special teams where there was a pressing need for coaching personnel.New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig is excited to have Budmayr on his offensive coaching staff and has confidence in what the rookie coach can do.“Bud’s awesome,” Ludwig said. “He hated to leave the quarterbacks, I hated to lose him, but there is a chance there to make a big impact on the program in a different role. He’s a football fanatic. He wants to be a coach. So, he’s got a chance to grow tremendously in terms of learning the game from that perspective.”One player who has been through the thick and the thin with Budmayr and can relate to his history with injuries is sixth-year senior quarterback Curt Phillips. Phillips and Budmayr came up through the UW program together, and while Phillips was on the field starting for the Badgers last fall, Budmayr was on the sideline giving Phillips a small sample of his coaching.“I trust what he sees,” Phillips said. “Sometimes you have people on the sidelines that you don’t necessarily take their advice, but he’s somebody that I definitely look up to and whatever he says I take to heart.”Budmayr says he has kept busy so far during spring practice, preparing charts and PowerPoints for the players and coaches, along with coaching on the field. It’s been a fast transition, but Genyk has taken Budmayr under his wing, making for a much smoother transition.Although Budmayr had to give up his dream of playing football as a career, he is now living a different dream.“It was my dream as a kid, like every kid, to grow up and play professional football,” Budmayr said. “After I had to move on from that dream, the next step was coaching, and so now I’m getting my feet wet with that, and I can’t thank coach Andersen enough for that opportunity.”last_img read more

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