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Leicester City- The Immortal Champions

The Premier League works as an oligopoly, probably the most famous and largest in sport, where only the richest can claim a right to the best players, and to the title. Until now. Founded in 1884 as Leicester Fosse FC, playing on a field near Fosse Road. They moved to Filbert Street in 1891 and were elected to play in the Football League in 1894 and adopted the name Leicester City in 1919. They moved to the nearby Walkers Stadium in 2002, which was renamed the King Power Stadium after a change of ownership in 2011.  Leicester’s first-ever football league game was a 4-3 defeat at Grimsby Town. In 1907-08 the club finished as Second Division runners-up, gaining promotion to the first division, the highest level of English football. However, the club was relegated after a single season, which included the club’s record defeat, a 12-0 loss against Nottingham Forest.  The first title in 132-year club history for this underdog is one of the most inspiring stories in the world of sport. The success of LCFC is the perfect example of what a hard-working and determined bunch of players having high team spirit and working as one can achieve. For them, it is not about the star power of individual players but rather about giving everything to make the team successful. Leicester city’s title run will go down to inspire all those who feel left out due to lack of funding or money power in sport and otherwise in life.

Leicester’s victory is a story that only makes the world a better place where they have nots can dream big and beat an elitist mindset with sheer hard work, high energy, focus, and working as one.

 In the last decade, more and more money power was dominating club football, with rich owners taking over football clubs and bringing in superstars for success. A large section of support has questioned this lack of a level playing field. Although UEFA financial fair play is a measure introduced to curb this, clubs found other ways and means to beat this mechanism many times. This victory is a tribute to all those who believe in the power and passion of football where money power was beaten not by chance but by a team that was consistent on the field from the middle of April 2015 and where they were fighting relegation last season. The European Championship when Denmark and Greece won the Euros in 1992 and 2004 respectively were hailed as great underdog victories but this victory is an even bigger fairytale. A league competition for an underdog who was 5000-1 chances to title and emerged as champion is possibly the biggest sporting success in the world.   THE TITLE JOURNEY     Leicester City participated in the Premier League in the 2014-15 season for the first time in ten years having been promoted from the Championship as champions. Despite being marooned at the bottom of the table for four and a half months between late November and mid-April, a late surge saw Leicester finish 14th in the Premier League and securing another top-flight season. The Foxes managed to win seven of their last nine fixtures to survive comfortably. It was in the 2015-16 season that the Premier League saw two new stars emerge namely Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.   JAMIE VARDY  It was only in 2011 that Jamie Vardy was playing 5th division football with Fleetwood Town where he scored 31 goals in his first season winning the “Player of the Year” award as they won the division. Leicester City F.C signed him in May 2012 for a transfer fee of 1 million. Vardy broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record after scoring in 11 successive games and was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.

The story of Vardy and his progress will also inspire millions in the world of sport and life

  RIYAD MAHREZ  Mahrez was the find of the season for Leicester. Spindly legged and wiry, but a true magician on the field with his technique and skills with the ball. The midfielder worked with so much energy and passion that it was tough for opponents to find space and time. Opposition defenders barely had time to catch a breath as well with Mahrez and Vardy counter-attacking ruthlessly.

Mahrez became the first African footballer to win the PFA  Player of the Year award in the Premier League.

N’GOLO KANTE Regarded as the new “Claude Makelele” by the French newspaper La Voix du Nord in his early days at FC Nantes, Kante was the midfield powerhouse for Leicester City this season. Having made a season record of 149 tackles in the month of April proved his superb defensive qualities. Being one of the players with the best work rate for Leicester he certainly proved to be the engine for the team and also among the best finds of the season for the club by Steve Walsh who also brought in Jamie Vardy and Mahrez at the club. Now being wanted by the top guns of the Premier League Kante was also among the four Leicester City players named in the PFA Team of the Year award.    CLAUDIO RANIERI A veteran with European top tier football coaching the likes Juventus, Chelsea, and Monaco was appointed Leicester City manager on the 13th of July 2015 on a three-year contract. His appointment was initially met with skepticism; when The Guardian called it “baffling” given Ranieri’s frequent dismissals but little did anyone know what he was about to gift Leicester City F.C, an expectation which only fans and the management would have dreamed of. Ranieri turned out to be the perfect manager for the club who provided all the motivation, organized the team perfectly well, and also gave freedom to his team to act like real foxes on the field! He put all his managerial experiences of the last 4 decades into best use through this team. A perfect team display on and off the field and this success story will enlighten many and I am sure we would see similar success stories in football and the sporting world.   THE INDIA CONNECT  In 2004 LCFC signed a partnership with AIFF where the India U17 team trained in Leicester for few weeks and Leicester academy coaches visited India to train India U17 team. The aim of Leicester partnering with India was to connect India with LCFC as there are many people of Indian origin who reside in Leicester. India’s U17 team had a great experience in that training stint where the Indian community extended the best possible hospitality to the team and made the Indian team feel at home. The coaching staff shared their experience after the trip with me as I was managing the U17 team from the AIFF end. East Bengal team also received great hospitality and its matches were well attended by the Indian diaspora when East Bengal took part in one competition organized by LCFC.  This victory of Leicester will be celebrated by fans all across the world as this is one of the most empowering stories in the world of sport. This success will instill a new hope not only in the world of sport but also in general life that with hard work, determination, team spirit, and belief in oneself, one can achieve a lot in life.  This is my tribute to the team for their courageous display, incredible fighting spirit, and for giving football fans all across the globe a big reason to celebrate the beautiful game. This victory will definitely change a trend in football where clubs will work to instill this winning formula rather than only relying on money power alone. This victory also showcases football as the best example where the integrity of football is also a winner.

Long Live Leicester and its team spirit

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