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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Valencia appoint Ranieri
Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is returning to Valencia
Former Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri has signed a two-year deal with newly-crowned Spanish champions Valencia.

"Ranieri has signed for two seasons with an option to extend the deal for another one," said a club spokesperson.

The Italian returns to the Spanish club for his second spell after coaching the side between 1997-1999.

"At last I've come home, I'm very happy and look forward to coaching Valencia once more," said Ranieri, who replaces Liverpool-bound Rafael Benitez.

He added: "When (Valencia general manager) Manuel Llorente asked me if I wanted to return, I said I'll come swimming. From London or from Rome."

"I have always had my heart here and the hope of returning. This is my home - I still have my (Valencia) ID card because I knew I'd be back one day."

Ranieri's replacement Hector Cuper led Valencia to two Champions League finals - both of which ended in defeat.

Then Benitez took over and won the 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 Primera Liga titles as well as the Uefa Cup.

I have a good relationship with the technical staff and I am happy with everything and certain we will work well
Claudio Ranieri

Ranieri said: "I left Valencia at a good moment, then Hector Cuper came and worked very well while Benitez did a great job.

"It is hard to follow, but I accept the challenge. I like to work hard and I am certain to say I will continue that.

"Rafa Benitez put together a great squad and I know a lot of the players who were with me. I have a good relationship with the technical staff and I am happy with everything and certain we will work well."

Ranieri will be able to make his own signings following the departure of director of sport Garcia Pitarch - after Benitez left in protest at that system.

During his previous spell at Valencia, Ranieri guided the club to victory in the King's Cup and a first qualification for the Champions League in his final season in charge.

RANIERI'S VALENCIA REIGN
Took over 1997
Guided Valencia to Champions League and Copa del Rey in 1997
Left to join Atletico Madrid in 1999

He joined Atletico Madrid immediately after the Cup victory, but his tenure at the club was cut short when they went into administration during his first season in charge.

Ranieri then moved to take over at Chelsea in September 2000 after the departure of Gianluca Vialli.

He will have a hard act to follow in Benitez, who led Valencia to the Spanish Championship and Uefa Cup triumph.

Benitez is expected to take over the manager's vacancy at Liverpool following the departure of Gerard Houllier.





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