Leicester City – The Fairytale That Became True

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In the 2015-2016 session of English Premier League, the team which never won the title in its 132 year old history finished off at the top of the table. Unlike teams of aggregated knowhow, or with a plethora of expensive players like Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal or Manchester United, they did it. Led by their old Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City was quite definite for a relegation.  

It would not be an exaggeration to opine that in the history of football, there has ever been a more motivating story. Wimbledon FC beat the doughty Liverpool 1-0 in FA Cup back in 1988 just 11 years after entering the football league. Leicester City has proved that not only extravagant and dominant teams in the leaderboard can win, but adroit ruses and a little amalgam of motivation from team mates can also do the job quite thrillingly.

Their team also defines the breathtaking nature of their home city. Leicester City is about a hundred miles north of London. Its rugby club – The Tigers is really popular. They think that many people can’t pronounce their name right. It’s supposed to be pronounced- ‘Les-ter’. Right, aren’t they?

Ranieri’s team beat Sunderland 4-2 in August 2015, and till then the winning streak kept going on like long train tracks. A former England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, who coached Leicester for a season about 5 years ago said, “It’s a dream team for everyone who loves football.” Despite having a rich owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who is a Thai billionaire, Leicester’s entire wage budget was around a $100m, barely a quarter of Manchester United’s current squad.

Mahrez, one of the talented beings behind Leicester City’s fairytale success said, “We do not have the best players, or the biggest budget, but our solidarity compels admiration.” Ranieri’s simple but mind blowing tricky formula seemed to do it. They defend deep, play counter attack. Jamie Vardy, another legend behind this huge success, plays on the shoulder of the last defender to stretch the field. It’s barely tiki-taka, but it works well. In February 2016, they beat Manchester City by thrashing the giants to a humbling 3-1 defeat. Manchester City’s coach Manuel Pellegrini told, “We were beaten by a better team”. It’s not often that you get to hear legends admitting these!

April and May was not far away after their effort. It was not long before they were crowned the champions of England.

From a relegation zone to English Premier League leader, Leicester City motivated a lot of people. Their journey to the zenith of success was exemplary, and proved that if someone works really hard for it,  nothing is impossible not only in football, but  in life as well.  Never have there been a more inspiring story in the history of English Premier League.

The season 2016-2017 kicked off recently. Who knows which team will perform another magic this season?

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Rafeed Elahi is a football lover, a movie adherent, and a writer by passion.

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