Legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli has treated Leicester City fans to a pre-match performance that’s been described as “one of the greatest moments in football history”.
The Italian opera singer approached countryman and Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri over a month ago as the English Premier League champions closed in on a historic title.
Bocelli was so taken by Leicester’s remarkable success that he wished to perform at a match. Their clash against Everton on Sunday (AEST) became the perfect fit.
It came on a day that Leicester celebrated their first ever Premier League title win – sealed last Tuesday (AEST) – in front of their home fans at the King Power Stadium.
With the club in full celebration mode and fans waving flags, manager Claudio Ranieri led the blind singer onto a specially designed stage to a huge ovation.
Bocelli prompted a huge cheer when he took off his jacket to reveal a Leicester City shirt – with his name emblazoned on the back.
He sang Nessun Dorma and ended with Time To Say Goodbye in a spine-tingling performance that had Ranieri, and supporters, visibly emotional.
Watch the full video below:
To have an opera singer perform before a football match is unusual and at one point it appeared that Leicester’s fans might start singing over the top of Bocelli.
But Ranieri prompted them to mute their songs as they played their part in a unique celebration.
English journalist Piers Morgan said on Twitter: “One of the greatest moments in football history.”
Bocelli also took to social media to reflect on the day.
— Andrea Bocelli (@AndreaBocelli) May 7, 2016
‘They are an extraordinary example’
In the build-up to the match, Bocelli revealed that he approached Ranieri and asked him if he could sing at a match.
“It kicked off over a month ago,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I got Ranieri’s number off [retired Argentina defender Javier] Zanetti, so I called him and said: ‘Look Ranieri, it’s Bocelli, I would love to do this thing’.
Bocelli spoke of his love of the sport and how the romance behind Leicester’s success had inspired him.
“My passion for football has no limits and comes from when I was a child in college. I followed everything then,” he added.
“Then, this Leicester season has really caught my eye.
“I think it has garnered attention from everyone as they are an extraordinary example of clean football, a small team becoming great thanks to the strength of the group spirit.
“They are a lesson in life. Where there is a will, there is a way.”
The singer is a big football fan and passionately supports Italian giants Inter Milan.
That is despite the fact he lost his sight playing the sport.
Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma as a child, making him partially blind.
And at the age of 12, he lost his sight completely after being hit on the head during a football match.