I am pretty sure Leicester City winning the English Premier League is the single biggest sports story of this century. Not in my lifetime have I seen a bigger championship shocker in any sports I follow. Not when the Miami Heat came back to beat the Mavs, not when the Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva, not even Manchester United’s two extra time goals to shock Bayern Munich, which has long been one of the most memorable football moments in my lifetime.
To put this in context, bookies had the Foxes at 5,000-1 odds at winning the title this season. That’s as good as saying ‘burn your money here’. Well, many Leicester fans will be laughing to the bank this week, and the economy in Leicester Will probably see a boost like it’s the industrial revolution all over again.
If that doesn’t paint a clear enough picture just how big this is, consider this. Since the birth of the league 23 years ago in 1992, United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea have won 21 of the titles. Blackburn Rovers were the only other team outside of those big for clubs to win it, and that was the second year of the league in 1993/94. So Leicester has broken a stronghold on the league by the big four that has not been done in twenty years.
The Cinderella stories come from all angles for Leicester. Claudio Ranieri last left England with a reputation as a tinker man who could never leave well enough alone and failed to win any serious silverware. And wad only appointed to the Leicester seat because the previous coach had to be sacked when his son was one of the players involved in the aforementioned sex tape scandal. Jamie Vardy was playing division 5 football a couple years ago. He’ll finish this season as one of the top scorers in the league, and will be England’s main striker in the Euros. Then there’s Riyad Mahrez, who if anyone tells you they’ve heard of before this year is a liar. Mahrez went from unknown to Barcelona transfer target in just the first few months of the season and never really looked back from there.
Whether or not Leicester can sustain this level of success and solidify their position as one of the top teams in the league for years to come remains to be seen. You can bet the big clubs will be making all kinds of panic bus this off season, after a humiliating season for the traditional ‘big’ clubs. Chelsea list the plot from the start, United haven’t improved since Moyes, Liverpool made a lot of noise but not much progress up the table, Arsenal did their usual close but no cigar thing, and City collapsed near the end. For the first time in a long, long time, none of these clubs posed a real threat as a title contender. Hundreds of millions will be splashed in an effort to ‘catch up’ with the new champions and a Spurs team who finally seem to have it all together.
Leicester themselves have a lot to do too. From here they could go down two paths. One like Blackburn all those years ago when a surprise title winner immediately got pillaged of their top players by the big speeding clubs, or the other where they carefully build on this, keeping the core happy and together, while spending wisely the new found riches they will be receiving from their title win to prolong their success. To sum it all up, Leicester winning the title could have a massive ripple effect not just in England, but across all of European football this summer. All this from a club who were close to relegation last season, and started the season with a sex tape scandal having over them. One for the history books for sure.