I’m a closet fan of Leicester City. It began years ago, in the early 1960s, when they were a good English First Division club, that constantly developed great players. From then, into the 1990s, the club could be named amongst those who’d been home to some of England’s best players-Shilton, Weller, Worthington, Clarke, Lineker, Heskey and some from elsewhere in Britain, such as Neil Lennon. Many went on to other clubs for stunning fees.
Then, the team waned and struggled, financially, needing the saving savings of big investors, the most recent and important being the current Thai owners, namely Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai businessman and billionaire, and the founder, owner and chairman of King Power Duty Free, from 2010 until his tragic death in a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium. His legacy is carried on by his family. His commitment helped Leicester do the most improbable feat of winning the Premier League, in 2016, under Claudio Raineri. They did that after narrowly missing relegation, the previous season. They have since sold some of their key players from the title-winning season, some of whom have gone on to win the Premiership with their new clubs. They sacked a few managers and floundered a little, but solidified themselves as a top team in the past three seasons, managing to make their way into European competitions, under Brendan Rodgers since 2019, who’s showed his style and imagination with Chelsea, Liverpool and Celtic.
But, they also had the sad legacy of most times in an FA Cup Final and not won–4…until yesterday.
They brought the magic again, on a day when masses of fans were allowed into a football stadium for the first time during the pandemic–22,000, roaring as they should.
They won the cup with a wonder goal, too, by Belgian Youri Tielemans, and the match has been dubbed “The Tielemans final”. Watch it, and watch it again, and again:
A quick VAR check for handball by Perez in the build-up, and the 63rd minute goal was confirmed.
It was just what fans want to see, live. I was out of my seat. So, too, was Gary Lineker, now in his pundit role as presenter for BBC’s Match of the day.
It was also putting up two fingers to the aborted European Super League, with the displays of affection between Chairman, management and team…connected top to bottom:
Leicester also showed that spending big money for ‘big’ stars is not always the way to success, and bringing on lesser-known players and developing them in a solid youth/academy system is a great way to go. Ironically, two of Leicester’s developed stars were on the losing Chelsea team, and Ben Chilwell nearly spoiled the party twice, with a header saved by Schmeichel and then a goal in the 88th minute, ruled out by VAR.
In the mix, was another piece of Jamie Vardy history-making, as the only player to have played in every round of the FA Cup (14), and won the trophy:
So, there’s plenty to savour and plenty to talk about for years to come. But, for now, the focus is on a nice piece of silverware to mark another good season.