Leicester's Claudio Ranieri wins Enzo Bearzot award for best Italian coach

ROME -- With his club leading the Premier League, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has won the Enzo Bearzot award for best Italian coach of the season.

Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio made the announcement Wednesday, calling Ranieri "a symbol of Italian excellence abroad."

After narrowly escaping relegation last season, Leicester have a seven-point lead in England and only need 12 points from their final six games to be assured of their first top-flight title.

The 64-year-old Ranieri signed with Leicester before this season after having previously coached Fiorentina, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan, Monaco and Greece's national team.

The award ceremony will be in Rome on May 9.

Previous winners of the award are Cesare Prandelli (2011), Walter Mazzarri (2012), Vincenzo Montella (2013), Carlo Ancelotti (2014) and Massimiliano Allegri (2015).

A jury including Tavecchio and the directors of Italian sports media outlets selected the winner.

The award was founded in 2011 in honor of 1982 World Cup winning coach Bearzot, who died in 2010.

Meanwhile, Harry Panayiotou became the Foxes' top international scorer last month -- breaking an 85-year-old record -- to eclipse Jamie Vardy's achievements with England this season.

Panayiotou, currently on loan at Raith Rovers, has six goals in 10 games for St Kitts and Nevis, beating Ernie Hine's four goals in six caps for England between 1928 and 1931.

Vardy scored twice for England against Germany and Holland last month and his 19 goals have helped the Foxes hold a shock seven-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

But Panayiotou is determined to stay ahead of his City team-mate, who is likely to be in England's Euro 2016 squad this summer, at international level.

"No one is taking that off me. It's nice to know you've broken an 85-year record, it means a lot to you," he said, after Caribbean Cup goals against Aruba and Antigua & Barbuda set the record.

"I just score goals for myself and my country. The main thing is getting the three points and going through. I love scoring goals, I feel so relaxed. In the Caribbean everyone is so relaxed, the manager just tells me to play with freedom."

Panayiotou scored a last-minute winner against Leeds on his debut for the Foxes in 2012 which remains his only game for the club but he admits he has still learnt from Vardy and the others at Leicester.

"What I like about Vardy is he knows when to run, when to turn off the shoulder and he is brilliant at that," he said. "You take something from everyone.

"He is still the same guy he was last year. He's not turned big time and done anything different but [Claudio] Ranieri has played Vards more than [Nigel] Pearson has."

The forward scored his first goal for Raith in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Rangers -- to temporarily deny the Gers the Ladbrokes Championship title until they sealed it on Tuesday.

His Leicester contract expires at the end of the season and he is enjoying life in Scotland but has one eye on the Foxes' title challenge.

He added: "I'm not just a player, I'm a Leicester fan. I hope they can do it because it would mean a lot to everyone in Leicester."

The Associated Press and Press Association contributed to this report.