Ranieri: Italy is hell compared to England

ROME - Claudio Ranieri, who quit as AS Roma coach last Sunday after four straight defeats and violent fan protests, likened Italian football to hell on Saturday and said the English game was preferable.

The former Chelsea coach, sacked by the London club in 2004 and replaced by fellow English football admirer Jose Mourinho after failing to win a trophy, would be interested in a return to the Premier League.

"In football there is paradise and there is hell. You can choose where to be between the two. Here, compared to England, it's hell," Ranieri told Rai television in his first comments since taking the unusual step these days of resigning.

"I want to coach again. England fascinates me but I like the Italian league too."

Roma fans threw flares and firecrackers at the club training ground gates last week and police had to intervene.

The club's problems this season have been made worse by a drawn-out sale process which put Ranieri under pressure irrespective of results with media reports saying prospective buyers Di Benedetto, a U.S. consortium, wanted to replace him.

"At Roma this year I became the only lightning conductor," added Rome-born Ranieri, who led the club he supported as a boy to second in Serie A last term before their slump to sixth this season.

Ranieri also felt hard done by when he was surprisingly sacked by Juventus in 2009 with the club on the cusp of the Champions League places. Results have since deteriorated.

Youth team coach and former striker Vincenzo Montella has taken over at Roma until the end of the season.