Jake Udinov: A Perspective on The Leicester City FC Story

The curtains have officially been drawn on the 2015/2016 edition of the ever exciting and dangerously exhilarating English Premier League season. And this season, much like the rest, has lived up to its billing.

Unlike the previous years which have produced tense finales and extremely nervy conclusions for supporters of each clubs, this year’s edition has served up something truly special; The Stuff of Legends!

Leicester City FC are the recipients of this year’s top prize. Yes, you heard right (or read right, in this case). And this feat has further lent credence to the famous quote by one of the greatest managers the world of football (or Soccer as our American friends call it) has ever known; Sir Alex Ferguson, who quipped after his side’s dramatic victory over their German opponents, “Football; Bloody Hell”. Bloody Hell indeed! Or how else can you explain, rationally, that a team that was almost in administration a little over 10years ago, and were plying their trades in the lower leagues up until the start of the 2014/2015 season, a team whose entire team cost less than 30million pounds to assemble (I’m not even sure the club, in its entirety is as expensive as the first team of Manchester United or Manchester City), would emerge champions of the staunchly viewed and passionately followed EPL? Your guess is as good as mine. There is no explanation!

So unrealistic were their chances of winning the League title this year that bookmakers predicted Donald Trump would have a better chance of becoming the next President of the United States (Oh wait a minute, Donald? Story for another day) than Leicester City FC winning the League. Some even posited that it was more likely for Elvis Presley to still be among the living than for Leicester City to emerge champions. Who can blame them? Not even the famous T.B Joshua saw this coming.

However like they say in football, anything is possible. Leicester City FC have shown just that!

Small fries they may have been, but their dedication, selflessness, indefatigable spirit, never-say-die attitude and courageous hearts have seen them walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and come out the other side victorious. A group of players, who were hitherto unknown, have become superstars overnight (well over the space of 10 months). Players like Jamie Vardy, who played non-league football less than 4 years ago; Riyad Mahrez, the recently crowned player of the year, and who cost about £400, 000.00; Kante, the human embodiment of a well-oiled machine; Robert Huth; a rejected stone at Chelsea and most recently, Stoke City; Danny Simpson, Drinkwater, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel (his father also a premier league champion) have all conspired to deliver the most improbable story in Football history.

Their football wasn’t the most exciting; they never played the Barcelona-esque dreamy football, nor did they park the bus like the team from the Stamford Bridge in London. They were just efficient, and they took this to a whole different level. Kasper Schmeichel did his Job in goal, just as Wes Morgan led from the back. Kante intercepted everything that came across his way with alarming grit and determination, while Mahrez supplied the flair and creativity. And of course, Mr Vardy applied the nail in the coffin. How can I forget Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City’s very own Park Ji Sung), who worked his socks off in every game – little wonder he never completed 90 minutes in any of the games he played.

Not only have they done the impossible, they have accomplished it with two matches to spare. Now that’s unreal.

Let us take a moment to appreciable the man behind this team, the director; the guy who calls the shot. Mr Claudio “Tinkerman” Ranieri! He is proof that the patient dog, truly, gets fed the fattest bone. Winning the league title with a team full of world class players is one thing (Yes it isn’t an easy feat regardless, ask Mr Moyes), but doing so with a team of below average to average talent is a whole different kettle of fish. Ranieri was the “nearly man” of coaching. He was always ‘almost’ winning the title, but never quite able to drag his team to the finish line. Quite astonishing to think he had been runner-up at Juventus, Roma, Monaco and Chelsea. But like they say, ‘he who laughs last, laugh best’, and he is definitely laughing best because of the manner in which he achieved his maiden league triumph. He has done it with the unlikeliest group of players and in the most difficult football league known to man presently.

One of the biggest winners in all of this is the EPL franchise itself. It already has the largest followership across the major leagues in Europe and the world at large, and its fan base is only likely to increase. After all, this is a League where, on a good day, a David can bring down a Goliath. Essentially, anything can happen!

The total Leicester City squad cost N9, 242,100,000 and just earned a massive N74, 817,000,000 ROI (Return on Investment). The Thai owners will be the happiest people on the planet right now.

It would be interesting to see what comes from this team in the future; what to expect from them in the UEFA Champions League (will or wouldn’t they spring a surprise), how they go on from here coming into the 2016/2017 season, and what the future holds for the players who have formed the core of the team. We can only speculate.

For now, let’s live in the moment; just sit back, relax, sip some wine and bask in the euphoria of the Leicester Story. What a time to be alive!


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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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