Leicester City (pronounced les-ter) have finally finished the script (or have they?) to the most unbelievable fairy tale ever created by mankind. Not just unbelievable either, it’s also exponentially better than what humans have ever created or will ever create. And we are talking forever, folks. As in this feat may never, for the entirety of the human race, occur again in sports.When you are pitted against 5000-1 odds to win the Premier League at the start of the season, not many would interpret it as an inspiration. However, not many, in fact, none, have achieved what Leicester have.
Some even considered it generous for the bookies to give them that odd. Why wouldn’t they? After all, a team that worked its pants off to stave off relegation last term has no chance at the title, right?
It is estimated that this ‘humanly’ mistake by the bookies will cost them over £25 million at the end of the ‘superhuman’ season that Leicester have had. Any adjectives associated with the feat that Leicester have achieved seems to lessen the greatness of the achievement. Which have led to some suggestions that there may be a new adjective to describe this Leicester feat (and there should).
And to think it all started with an infamous orgy in Thailand.
The club’s Thai owners took the squad for a postseason tour to their country, and three players decided to have some fun with prostitutes, allegedly showering one of them with racist insults. Word of them participating in the orgy became public, and James Pearson, Tom Hopper, and Adam Smith were promptly sacked.
James Pearson’s father Nigel, who was Leicester’s manager at the time of the incident, was fired shortly thereafter, a decision that was linked with his son’s role in the matter. Leicester’s board then appointed Sir Claudio (as he deserves to be called after this) after much talking to with his agent Steve Kutner over several weeks.
Kutner and his client Ranieri were seeking to return to England at the time following the Italian’s disgraceful sack as the Greece National Team manager when they lost to the Faroe Islands by a goal to nil. Ranieri was seeking a move to the Premier League because of his ‘fond’ memories during his time at Chelsea, as well as the fact that he still had property in London. His agent knew that the owners at Leicester had skeptic views of the 64-year old, but he refused to be let down, instead focusing on his Italian client’s graceful past in management as much as he could during the conversations.
The talks progressed well, evidenced by the follow-up meetings. The owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was impressed by the Italian’s calm and composed way of carrying about himself, as well as his past success. After all, to a club that barely survived in the Premier League last season, a manager that had an uncanny ability to come second in the table did not matter at all, as entertaining even that idea would’ve made them chuckle at the time.
Critics, including the former Leicester star Gary Lineker, thought poorly of this appointment, so much so that the celebrated forward promised with a Tweet in December to present the first game of BBC’s Match of the Day programme next season in his underwear if his team did win the Premier League.
That didn’t bode well, obviously, as he has been subject to a good amount of confrontations regarding the promise, which even made its way to the British Parliament, believe it or not.
And when the question was posed to the Prime Minister David Cameron on whether he thought Lineker should keep his promise, he said yes he should. Just watch the clip below:
Getting back on the topic of Leicester, they were level with Arsenal on points tally during December; the time when people started thinking that Arsenal actually were going to step up their game and win this. They were looking the real deal too, at least when they took apart the Manchester City team at the Emirates by a margin of 2-1. During this game, fans and others alike saw an Arsenal side that had the maturity and composure to see out games. It was also uncharacteristic of them, as Arsenal always attempt to have more possession, to not dominate the ball for the entire 90 minutes and yet come away looking like the better side. Obviously, this renaissance did not last very long, contrary to the Leicester rumble.
In several interviews with some of the Leicester players, it was later discovered that they didn’t even utter the words “Premier League Title” until they were confirmed as winners. This actually makes some sense, as ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop reiterated his belief, having some experience as the goalkeeper of the other team remotely close to eclipsing Leicester’s achievement, Newcastle, during the 1995-96 season; that taking the season one game at a time lessens the pressure on the player’s shoulders.
Upon further thinking, imagine a Premier League season not as a book, but as a series of books. If you try to consummate the entire series in one night, you are going to end up not understanding a word that you’ve read. On the other hand, if you read the entire series over the course of the year, one book every weekend, you will be much more likely to stay engaged in it and actually gain something from it to take on to the next book.
As you might’ve already figured out, the analogical book is one matchday. Why cheat and read the very end of the story? To spoil the rest of the reading?
Leicester City do not think about who’s going to win the title at the end of the season because that’s too far ahead of the story for them. They play every game with passion, desire, and belief; because at the end of the day, every point matters. Every moment matters. Every miss, every tackle, every dribble, every single damn step matters.
And if thoughts of winning the Premier League for the first time in their history, after being favorites to become relegated at the beginning of the season, distracted their attention, they knew they would rue that moment, that precious, priceless moment, for the rest of their lives.
So, assume whatever you will, but Ranieri united the players in this unified belief. And humanity thanks him for doing so. And we might yet thank him even more come next season.
With contributions from Ariel Topaz.