In 2015, Nigel Pearson's Leicester side pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of the premier league to survive relegation, which they seemed certain to be heading, for majority of the season.
By April 2015, they had recorded just four wins all season and were placed rock bottom in the premier league table. However, a run of seven wins, one draw and a loss in their last nine matches ensured they finished 14th on the premier league table. Nigel Pearson's frosty relationship which started when he addressed a journalist roughly after the loss to Chelsea cost him his job and a new coach Claudio Ranieri was appointed.
Ranieri's appointment was met with skepticism and coupled with the departure of influential captain Cambiasso, many doubted if Leicester City would survive the division for another season. Claudio Ranieri's main task was to ensure Leicester City's survival in the following season, however the owners got more than they bargained for when the premier league title was won for the first time in their 132 year history.
Ranieri turned his squad of cast-offs from bigger clubs, former non-league players and unknown stars from small teams in France into premier league title winners. This made them only the seventh team to win the premier league in it's history. The other teams to have won it are Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Manchester City. The win for Leicester City was more like the reunion in the popular Game of Thrones series where all the rejected personalities from different houses came together to form an alliance that defeated the Night King and his army.
Leicester City's squad at the time cost only £72million which was seven times less than the £415million Manchester City spent on their squad for that season. This was the season when the premier league was introduced to players such as N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy who finished the season with 24 goals. Ranieri used the fewest number of players in the premier league and build his team around certain players who later became household names.
This season Leicester City is currently on a running battle between Chelsea and Manchester United for a top four finish. Brendan Rodger's side have somewhat brought back memories of the title winning season with the team's display so far this season. For a side that surprised the whole footballing world, let's take a look at how each first team player of that squad is faring at the moment.
Kasper who is still first choice goalkeeper is now the vice captain of the team and have made 30 appearances or more in each of the four seasons he has spent since the title triumph, having played every of Leicester's matches this season (36). Rated as one of the best stoppers in the premier league the 33 year old son of Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel, Kasper went on to excel for Denmark in the 2018 world cup, made 371 appearances for Leicester and have kept 13 clean sheets in the premier league this season. He has always been on the wish list of big teams around the globe.
The Manchester United academy product was released after five years of service in June 2019 being usurped by Ricardo Pereira in the right back position. The 33 year old now plays for Huddersfield in the championship and have been a regular for his team.
The 36 year old skipper despite being in the twilight of his career is still proving a valuable asset in the squad as he provides back up options in cup competitions. He has since been replaced in the starting line up by younger options but his off field influence is likely to earn him a one year extension to his current deal.
The 35 year old German experienced a thrilling comeback himself after he spent the second half of 2014/2015 on loan before coming back to be one of the pillars of Leicester's title charge. Robert Huth left Leicester on a free transfer in 2018 having missed the entire 2017/2018 season due to foot and ankle injuries. The three time premier league winner (twice with Chelsea and once with Leicester) who made 322 appearances in the premier league was linked to Stoke City and Derby County but retired instead on January 11th 2019 and he is now studying for an MSC in Sports Directorship with VSI Executive Education.
The 34 year old is now a back up to first choice Ben Chilwell at left back but that's because he is still competent in his position. Now a fan favourite, the Austrian is expected to leave on a free transfer to the MLS where he hopes to reunite with his family. There is also the option of extending his deal by one year, which will definitely be to the advantage of Bredan Rodger's side. Currently on his sixth season for the Foxes, Christian runs a Public Relations company, the Fox Soccer Academy (New York) and the NoFuchsGiven eSports academy team.
The most influential player in terms of creativity for the Foxes as they claimed the EPL title, won the PFA player's player of the season for his efforts. He got his long awaited move to Manchester City in 2018 for £60million and helped the Citizens to the premier league title. He also helped Algeria lift the 2019 African cup of nations, his free kick against Nigeria making one of the highlights of the tournament. Mahrez however soiled his reputation with Leicester when he remarked that he wasted two years of his footballing career due to Leicester's perceived reluctance in cashing out on the forward after 2016.
Regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world, Kante spent just one season with Leicester City before being snapped by Chelsea for a £32million fee. He has since been a mainstay in the Chelsea midfield, winning the premier league in his first season and also bagging the PFA player of the year award in 2017. His title winning performance for the Foxes established him in the French National team as he has gone on to win the world cup with France in 2018. Kante also won the FA Cup in 2018 and the Europa League in 2019.
Drinkwater wasn't heralded as one of the clubs top players during the title charge, but you won't be a steady presence in such a team that played two central midfielders if you weren't doing your job competently. His £34million move to Chelsea in 2017 to join his former teammate N'Golo Kante attested to his abilities but it didn't quite work out well as persistent injury concerns, fitness issues and falling out of favour with managers have stalled his career. First it was Antonio Conte, and then Sarri who barely featured the 30 year old in a Chelsea jersey. The former Manchester United youth star is currently on loan at relegation battling Aston Villa after earlier loan spell with Burnley. His displays have not quite been impressive even as he is second on Bill Barnwell's list of the worst all-time premier league signings.
Albrighton didn't grab the headlines like his colleagues but his threat from set pieces was well noted. Having Harvey Barnes coming through the ranks and the signing of Ayoze Perez for a big fee, the 30 year old is more of a squad player these days. He is a fan favourite and still has contract with the Foxes till 2022.
The press constantly referred to Shinji with names such as Vardy's support man and Robin to Vardy's Batman because of his work ethics of the ball and support to talisman Jamie Vardy. The 34 year old Japanese National team player did prove to be the perfect partner for Vardy at the time even as he chipped in five goals despite the support role he played. He was signed by Malaga in 2019 after making 114 appearances and scoring 14 goals for the Foxes but after a failed spell due to financial concerns he now plays for Huesca in La Liga where he has bagged 12 goals this term.
One of Europe's most successful stories so far, Vardy only tasted premier league football aged 28 years scoring 24 goals. At 27 years was when he played professional football for the first time helping Leicester City to gain promotion with 16 goals in the Championship. At 33 years, he is not showing signs of slowing down as he tops the premier league scoring chart with 23 goals and he is on course to win the golden boot. There was strong indication Vardy would leave to Arsenal in 2016 but the striker opted to remain with the Foxes and have gone from strength to strength. His exploits with Leicester City earned him a place in Euro 2016 and in the 2018 world cup. However Vardy retired from international football in August 2018 to focus on club football.
Currently the head coach of Serie A side Sampdoria, the former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan gaffer was sacked on February 2017 after a run of poor results which kept Leicester City one point above the relegation zone with 13 games left. He later signed up for Nantes side in France where he spent one season.
He has since gone on to manage Fulham and AS Roma before appointed head coach of Sampdoria who are currently 14th on the Serie A table, 9 points above the relegation zone with 5 matches remaining. Ranieri's exploit with Leicester City, earned him many awards which included Premier League Manager of the Season, LMA Manager of the year, Grand Officer of the Italian Order of Merit and the Enzo Bearzot Award as best Italian Manager of the year. He also won the 2016 best FIFA Men's Coach Award.
Other Notable Mentions
He was an important impact substitute who made 29 appearances during the title charge. Due to limited game time he left in 2018 after a loan spell with Brighton, to Mexico's CF Pachuca in August 2018. The 33 year old later joined Rayo Vallecano in 2019 where he is out injured.
A home grown midfielder, the 31 year old who is the longest serving player in Leicester City is expected to leave at the end of the season due to limited opportunities. After the 2015/2016 title triumph, he has had loan spells at Swansea, Derby County, Rangers and he's currently with Huddersfield Town. He was part of the Wales side that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
The versatile Ghana international who made 24 appearances in the title winning season signed for Crystal Palace in 2017 and has been a mainstay of the side since then.
Nathan was on loan from his parent club Swansea in the 2015/2016 season and somehow became part of the history making side. He has since returned to his parent club Swansea who are in the Championship.
The winger arrived midway through the 2015/2016 as a teenager and has since made over 100 premier league appearances for the club. He has played about 23 times for England Under-21s as well.
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