Leicester City are Premier League Champions. It has been a remarkable journey filled with disbelief and amazement; the underdogs have proven everyone wrong and won the most incredible, unbelievable victory-the top tier of English football, which is widely recognised to be one of ‘the best’ leagues in the world (if not the very best). Leicester’s victory is incredible for a number of reasons; not least the statistical history of the club and their expectations for the season, the precedents set by the league, and the City team itself.
Last season, out of 20 teams Leicester finished 14th, a mere 6 points clear of relegation to the league below, the Championship. At Christmas last year they were rock bottom, where they remained until mid April-bearing in mind the season finishes in May-with six games (out of a grand total of 38) to play. During the break before this season, they were forced to sack their manager after a debacle in Thailand. Going into this season they were favourites for relegation from pretty much every major bookmaker and newspaper, and an absurd 5,000/1 shot to win the title. Leicester were top at Christmas but still people doubted, their manager Claudio Ranieri was still mocked as ‘the Tinkerman’ due to his constant changes and the club were said to be over-reliant on their dynamic duo of Mahrez and Vardy. In the competition’s history which spans over 20 years, there have only been 6 different victors.
Leicester’s team cost £30 million, which might seem like a lot. However, the champions last season, Chelsea, have a team which costs upwards of £215 million, whilst Manchester United’s cost north of £325 million. Relegated Aston Villa had a team worth more than twice as much as Leicester’s. In terms of wages they are estimated to have the fourth lowest wage bill in the league. In comparison then, Leicester are a small time team who you would expect to be struggling against relegation, perhaps mid-table at best. For a team of their stature to win the league if unprecedented in modern times.
For Leicester City to win the biggest competition in football is the greatest fairytale in the game-it reminds me more than a little of Rudyard Kipling’s If. It is a truly inspirational story of courage and perseverance when the odds are against you, when you are ridiculed, and when you are written off-never give up hope even when the odds are against you.