Hottest Online News Portal

Leicester City Lifts Premier League Trophy

in Latest/Sports


NOT for the first time, Leicester City fans watched in disbelief.

As they took their seats to see their team lift its first ever Premier League trophy, one of the world’s most famous tenors was led onto the pitch, wearing not black tie but a personalised Foxes shirt.

When Andrea Bocelli began to sing the anthem that once introduced the titans of world football – Nessun Dorma – several fans dabbed their eyes with handkerchiefs.

Now they were champions and they, too, could be serenaded with the music sung by Pavarotti for the 1990 World Cup.

It had been a week of firsts – when else had Leicester led American news bulletins? – but this performance was more unlikely still.

Bocelli, who has sung for popes and presidents, was now performing in a mid-sized football stadium in the East Midlands, tucked between a car dealership and a Holiday Inn.

He was accompanied by Claudio Ranieri, the club manager and a fellow Italian, who held out his hand to ask for silence as his friend sang. For the only time, the fans fell quiet.

Ranieri had persuaded Bocelli to break off his world tour to perform as the sold-out crowd of 32,000 took their seats to watch Leicester play Everton in their final home game of the season.

As with the best operas, that everyone knew what would happen (Leicester had secured the league, regardless of the result) hardly dulled the emotion.

After 132 years as not so much also-rans as no-hopers, here they were: champions.

That word was everywhere, emblazoned on flags and t-shirts and bellowed again and again around the King Power stadium.

The front page of the Leicester Mercury captured the world’s shock and the city’s intense, if long-postponed, pride. Above a picture of that trophy, the headline ran: “And now you’re gonna believe us…”

Fans began to file into the stadium early, refreshed with free beer and pizza, and piped to their seats by an incessant chorus of car horns.

“I am so joyous that we did it but also sorry my dad isn’t here to share in it.”

They were all here, devotees who have stayed with the club through its fallow years and a few who cheerfully confessed to being glory supporters. Glory supporters! At Leicester!

In the stands, families born in Leicester but now living on different continents were reunited, as were season ticket holders who began sitting next to each other years ago as strangers and have become friends during the long, long wait for victory.

One man flew from Australia to watch the match with his brother-in-law.

Another came from Thailand, home of the club’s billionaire owner, with 34 of his friends.

“In Thailand, we normally support Manchester, Liverpool or Chelsea,” said Chadchai Pummanee, “but they don’t have the trophy.”

Outside the ground, the club shop was so busy that security guards introduced a one-in-one-out policy.

A queue of hundreds snaked around the stadium, undeterred by news that the club had already sold out of three sizes of next season’s shirt.

One man bought 25 match day programmes for his entire extended family. Hannah McCourt, an administrative assistant, queued for 45 minutes to reach the shop.

“I’m a Leicester girl and we don’t often have something to celebrate,” she said.

Inside the ground, Craig Sawbridge, a 35-year-old security guard found it bittersweet to take his seat and watch his team claim the trophy.

He has been coming to Foxes matches all his life with his father, Barry, who died suddenly last year at the age of 58. Three days after attending his last Leicester game – sitting, as ever, next to his son – the elder Mr Sawbridge suffered a cardiac arrest.

“We’re gonna win the league,” he predicted shortly before he died. A lifelong fan, he died wearing a club jersey and was buried in a blue coffin.

On Saturday, both his sons sat together in the family’s old seats. “It would have meant the world to him to be here to see the champions lift the trophy,” said Craig Sawbridge.

“I am so joyous that we did it but also sorry my dad isn’t here to share in it.”

Not far away sat Andy Ritchie, who can still remember his first match. He was seven when his father, Graham, took him to see the Foxes play Manchester United: he was dazzled by the atmosphere.

Now 40 and the owner of a city centre delicatessen, he has stayed true to the club all these years, celebrating its occasional successes and bemoaning its far more frequent tribulations.

“It was painful,” he said. “We played some awful football.”

On Saturday, the Ritchies – father and son – were sitting next to each other in the stands once more, cheering on the team both men love. Arranging for Nessun Dorma was “classic Ranieri”, the younger Mr Ritchie said.

“For any football fan, it makes the hairs on your neck stand up.”

Until then, he explained, the week had seemed surreal, something from a Hollywood storyline. “We’ve been in a period of not quite believing it,” he said. “This is the moment it all sank in.” – The Telegraph

Latest from Latest

Go to Top