Leicester City Football Club are the 2015/16 Premier League champions. What a simply wonderful sentence. Much has been said in speculation over the past months, and much more will be said now that their triumph has been confirmed. Many have already labelled this victory the greatest in sporting history. Whilst this is a difficult debate to conduct due to vastly differing disciplines and historical and monetary factors, what cannot be denied is both the brilliance and magnitude of this moment, especially for a sport and a division that has somewhat stagnated in terms of title challengers during the Premier League era. This is the advert that English football needed, and will surely have repercussions both nationally, and internationally, that will hopefully carry great benefits to the game in this country.
Many have cited Leicester’s title winning season as evidence and inspiration for clubs throughout the division; a team who battled relegation the season previous, sacked their manager in the wake of post-season scandal, and went in at 5000-1 (somewhat) outsiders for Premier League glory. Never have the likes of this been seen in the 24 year history of the Premier League; whilst some will cite Blackburn’s victory of 1994/95, the financial backing of owner Jack Walker means, whilst no doubt a wonderful success, that it resembled more closely the rises of Chelsea and Manchester City. Leicester City, in contrast, have spent less money on transfers in the entire history of the club than Manchester United have in the past two seasons. This is a title win that harks back to the days before the coming of Sky Sports and the Premier League, and in particular the brilliance of Brian Clough’s Derby County and later Nottingham Forest in the 70s, the latter of whom won the First Division the season after being promoted. The fervour surrounding this victory and its potential to stir belief in other underdogs remains to be seen, but with the Premier League’s newly organised TV deal about to pay out to all clubs in the division, it could not have come at a better time to break up any sort of preconceived notions of a ‘Top 4’. Perhaps it will even stop Alan Shearer predicting Chelsea to win the league at the start of every season.
At an international level, Leicester’s success this season has led to the England debut of Danny Drinkwater, whilst Jamie Vardy has continued his run in the national set-up, and Marc Albrighton can surely consider himself unlucky at the lack of attention his performances have garnered from Roy Hodgson. On top of this, N’Golo Kante received his first call-up for the French national side earlier this year, and is expected to make the squad for this summer’s European Championships. When coupled with Tottenham’s excellent season, driven largely by their core of young English talent, the national side has been completely revamped, leaving behind the ageing members of the so-called ‘golden generation’ of the past decade. The inclusion of multiple Tottenham and Leicester players as key members of Roy Hodgson’s recent England squads has led to calls for players who have been previously overlooked to be given long awaited debuts, most notably in the case of Mark Noble. Hopefully this can lead us away from the over-reliance on players picked from traditionally successful teams purely due to the name of their club. Let us remember that England’s best World Cup performance since the 1966 win occurred in 1990 when Peter Shilton, Mark Wright` (who both narrowly escaped relegation from Division 1 with Derby County) and Steve Bull (of Second Division Wolverhampton Wanderers) were integral parts of the squad. Much has already been said in praise of the togetherness and team ethic of Leicester this season, something that has proven to carry success when transferred into an international set-up, where teams that act as a greater sums of its parts regularly find success in tournaments.
In short, the unprecedentedly remarkable nature of the result of this Premier League season, let us remind ourselves in case we thought we had awoken from the dream – a Leicester triumph, has the potential to re-shape the previously predictable Premier League and England international set-up. Congratulations Leicester and thank you.
Image Credit to Wikimedia User Kadjsh