The Leicester Story: Who Says You Can’t?
It was Will Smith in ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ that said to his son ‘Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.’ It was a quote borne out of the need to silent the many voices in your head and around you that suggest to you to follow well defined average paths and tell you that’s where you belong.
Though, a sporting tale, the story of Leicester City is a classic poster-boy case for anyone harboring great ambitions (emphasis on anyone & great ambitions). This was a football Club that was reeling at the bottom of the premier league table about a year ago with all the odds suggesting an inevitability of tier two football in the Championship. Today, Leicester City have not just emerged Champions of the elite Barclays English Premier League, they have even more completed the epilogue to a sublime sporting narrative that will both be the preoccupation of future historians, and a springboard for anyone with dreams.
It is somewhat of a cliché in modern football that money ultimately breeds success. The Madrid Galaticos and the reigns of Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour in Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, are firm examples of how fortune can buy trophies. Leicester City have proven to be the outliers to this trend. From hosting League One football about a decade ago, King Power stadium will now play host to the crème de la crème of European clubs. The tale is pure magic especially when one considers that the club was almost doomed last season. Today, Leicester have added a sequel to their 132 year history that changes everything. The entire team must hold their head up high in absolute pride. They fought for each other, and played for each other. From the save hands of Kasper Schmeichel, to the sublime leadership of Wes Morgan to the tireless feet of N’golo Kante to the prolific boots of Jamie Vardy, the players have achieved something no one but they believed in. In the Leicester story lays a motivation for smaller clubs in the league. Nothing can reinforce the point more than the Leister story that anything is possible in football if you dare to believe and want it bad enough.
In Claudio Ranieri, Leicester possesses a manager that has long been dismissed as an ‘has-been’ a nearly man and a tinkerman at best. Having voyaged round 14 clubs in his 28 years managerial career, the Italian has managed to somehow recreate himself and reinvented his tactical nous. He was dismissed by Greece in 2014 unceremoniously, and some pundits believed that that was the final nail to his managerial coffin. However, Claudio has defied all the odds. He has never won the league in every club he had managed. The closest he has come is second place in England (Chelsea) and in France (Monaco). No doubt, this is so much a personal redemption for Claudio as it is for the rest of the Foxes loyalists.
The incredibility of this story is not hinged on luck, as Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane noted, there was no luck in that triumph; they deserved it. For while the bookmakers waited for an eventual collapse at some point, the Foxes kept amassing points. When they needed to win ugly, they did. When they needed to scrap a point, they did. And when they had to soak in pressure and park the bus, they stationed the bus with sheer elegant.
However, when all of this sinks in and the dust begins to settle, the big question for Leicester will be what next for them. With such untold success comes an inflated expectation. Life in the Champions League will be a different kettle of fish, and with a season ahead where all of Chelsea, City and most probably, United will be heralding managerial watershed, the Foxes will have the job of defending their crown well cut out for them. Having said that, this is not the time to be encumbered with tomorrow’s thoughts. Leicester City and everyone associated with them have just earned their moment in the sun and they deserved to merry-on in that as long as they can muster. We might probably never see such a thing replicate itself for a long time to come in Sporting history and it is for that reason that the surreal story of Leicester City cannot reach a point when it begins to attain a status of ‘stale news.’