Shinji Okazaki has played the entire season without understanding a single word that Claudio Ranieri has been saying to him.
In a press conference that completely dispels the idea that players need time to adjust to English football, Ranieri admitted that it’s been near enough impossible to send instructions to the Japanese forward, who signed for the Foxes in June.
Okazaki is expected to play a bigger role for the Champions elect due to Jamie Vardy’s suspension. Leicester take on Swansea on Sunday and Okazaki could well start up front.
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The 30-year-old has totally bought into the idea that Leicester’s players work hard for each other. He has completed 90 minutes just three times this season but his work rate cannot be called into question.
He deserves a Premier League winners medal just as much as the rest of Leicester’s stars.
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Ranieri's press conference
The Foxes have a five-point lead with four games remaining but Ranieri appeared just as pleased that Okazaki can now speak English.
“Shinji Okazaki finally passed the test - the English test,” the Italian said. “Well done! Now he can understand when I say something.
“Previously it was always ‘yes, yes, yes’ but he never understood what I said.”
Okazaki will be better now
So, will Okazaki be even better for Leicester now that he understands what his manager and teammates are saying?
“Yes. This morning we clap him and say ‘now you can understand what I say!’”
The highlight of Okazaki’s season was the stunning overhead kick he scored in the 1-0 win against Newcastle in March. The former Stuttgart player secured all three points as Leicester extended their lead over the chasing pack to five points, and they haven’t looked back.
It was his sixth - and most memorable - goal of the season.
“I have scored one like that before in the Bundesliga against Hannover but it was a completely different situation,” Okazaki reflected, per The Guardian.
“This was a far more important game and because it was the goal that won it, makes it a lot different.
“I don’t practise overhead kicks. I actually like direct shooting. One touch – then shoot. The goal was just instinctive. That is my character.”
Leicester have torn up the script
The expression on Okazaki’s face after he struck the goal was one of the best images in what has been a glorious season for Leicester.
They have torn up the script this season, catapulting themselves from relegation candidates to title contenders.
The Foxes have secured entry into next season’s Champions League - an incredible feat in itself - and are on the verge of becoming the first team not named Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea to win the Premier League since 1995.
“We’re in the Champions League, man,” Ranieri added, per Leicester's website. “Dilly ding, dilly dong! It’s fantastic, terrific, well done to everybody – the owners, the fans, the players, the staff – everybody is involved.
“It’s a great achievement – unbelievable. Now, we go straight away to try to win the title. Only this remains.”