Leicester City FC
When Leicester City fell to a dramatic and painful play-off defeat in England’s second tier, there will have been few who envisioned the remarkable journey the Club has been on since that fateful day.
Against Watford in May 2013, the Foxes had a stoppage time penalty to book a spot at Wembley and a shot at returning to the Premier League. That penalty was saved and the Hornets raced up the other end of the pitch to score, breaking Leicester City hearts and dashing promotion dreams.
That heartache was short lived however, as a squad high on talent and team spirit used that disappointment to fuel the fires for a campaign that would see the Club end a decade-long absence from English football’s top flight.
With Wes Morgan leading from the back, Player of the Year Danny Drinkwater pulling the strings in midfield and a front two of Jamie Vardy and David Nugent running defences ragged, Leicester stormed to the 2013/14 Championship title with a club record 102 points.
The football that team played was among the most exciting in the country and heading into the 2014/15 Premier League season, King Power Stadium was full of optimism, particularly after the arrival of legendary Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso.
As the season began to unfold, that optimism looked well placed, and a 5-3 victory over Manchester United in September 2014 helped to cement a solid start for a Leicester City side growing steadily in confidence.
Performances remained positive but as the season wore on, results began to go against the Foxes to such an extent that they spent a torturous 140 days at the foot of the table – a situation that saw them seven points adrift of safety with nine games to go.
Written off and in need of a miracle, Leicester rallied. Andy King’s winning goal against West Ham at the start of April brought the roof off King Power Stadium and kick-started a run of seven wins and a draw from their final games to lift them what was called the greatest escape in Premier League history.
Experienced Italian manager Claudio Ranieri arrived in the summer of 2015 to help mastermind another Premier League survival for the Foxes but what followed went beyond all expectations.
In less than a year, Ranieri turned the fight against relegation into a fight for the title as the Foxes' eye-catching counter attacking style had their Premier League opponents in a spin.
In attack, Vardy, who was playing none league football as recently as 2012, announced himself in the top-flight by scoring in a record 11 consecutive Premier League games while Riyad Mahrez had defenders bamboozled with some dazzling displays from the wing.
The performances of Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante in central midfield were such that not only were Leicester top at Christmas for the first time in the Club’s history, but safety was virtually assured by the time 2016 arrived.
Having endured the pressure of a relegation battle the previous campaign, the enjoyment Leicester were playing with began to capture the imagination of football fans worldwide as they continued to prove the doubters wrong – beating the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur on their charge to the top of the table.
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