Despite entering the season as 5,000-to-1 underdogs, Leicester City won the Premier League on Monday, and England hasn’t stopped talking about it.
Nor should it.
“Well, on the main news stations, it’s still been the lead story. That is how big it is,” Chelsea FC announcer Neil Barnett said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It is bigger than anything political. Today we’ve got an election for the new mayor of London, but all week Leicester has been the main story in the news.”
Leicester spent much of last season near the bottom of the league rankings but went from rags to riches to secure its first top-tier title in the club’s 132-year history.
“It’s never happened before because football has never been so money-dictated before and a club of Leicester’s size coming along in relation to the big clubs in budgetary terms has never won a league in this kind of environment,” Barnett explained. “It’s new. It’s completely new, and who knows if it will ever happen again?”
Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Leonardo Ulloa, Shinji Okazaki and others captivated Leicester all year. As the club’s magical season unfolded, it picked up quite a few fans – even fans of other teams.
“I think once every club fan realized that their team wasn’t going win the league and it was coming down to Leicester and some of the big boys – and then Leicester and Tottenham only – I think everybody wanted Leicester to win it,” Barnett said. “That’s obvious. But it’s very tribal in England. You support your team.”
Interestingly, Leicester didn’t win the title outright after its final match. The club could have secured the championship with a win over Manchester United on Sunday but played to a 1-1 draw. Thus, Leicester needed – and received – help from Chelsea, which overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie Tottenham.
Once that happened, bedlam – all throughout England.
“The atmosphere there was absolutely electric because the rivalry between two London teams, Chelsea and Tottenham, is fever-pitch anyway,” Barnett said. “So it was a big, big night on the football calendar, and it was one not to be missed. It was bubbling with all sorts of things that you remember for a long, long time.”