The Leicester fairytale of 2015/16 has brought with it many startling facts and stats that have been oft-told on social media and beyond. Four years ago Jamie Vardy was turning out for Fleetwood Town. Twelve months ago the Foxes beat Burnley 1-0 away to increase their chances of Premier League survival. The odds given last summer on Leicester winning the league were ten times greater than alien life being discovered in that timeframe. The story from start to (near)finish has been a smorgasbord of amazing surprises and here’s another – deposit £5 and get £25 of free play at the best bingo sites around.
It is possible to go through the entire team and find tales of individual achievement so implausible a Hollywood scriptwriter would think twice before committing to paper and now – with just three games and three points needed – the impossible has become the probable.
Should Leicester win away at Old Trafford this weekend – or failing that gain something from their games against Everton and Chelsea – we will see Wes Morgan lift the Premier League crown following the household names that have done so before him. We will see Danny Simpson and Marc Albrighton claim a title winner’s medal after recently being discarded by QPR and Aston Villa respectively. The contrasting trajectories of both players and their previous clubs could not be more stark.
These, and many others including Danny Drinkwater, Christian Fuchs and Andy King, will have thoroughly deserved their gongs but it is also true to say they will be somewhat surprising and unlikely recipients.
They won’t be the last and they certainly are not the first.
Bob Bolder (Liverpool 1984)
An injury to Bruce Grobbelaar allowed the Dover-born stopper to make the requisite number of appearances to earn a medal as Liverpool fought off Southampton to claim their 15th title.
Having also won a European Cup honour from the bench that year we like to imagine how the conversation might go if Bob and Steven Gerrard ever discussed silverware at Anfield.
Jon Newsome (Leeds 1992)
After retiring at 30 through persistent injury problems Newsome’s career appearances tally is unjustly short for an undeniably decent defender.
Just sixty-odd games for Norwich, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday apiece doesn’t do justice for a centre-back who was voted Player of the Year at Carrow Road in his first season and who was so highly rated in Norfolk his sale to Wednesday provoked protests.
Now co-owner of a car dealership Newsome can take great stock in at least partnering Chris Whyte throughout Leeds’ title winning campaign.
Luke Chadwick (Manchester United 2001)
In 2001 a twenty year old who bore an unfortunate resemblance to any gif captioned ironically with ‘playaa’ ran around tenaciously at Old Trafford on sixteen occasions. Two years later he was at Reading.
Luke Chadwick has a league title winner’s medal while Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Jimmy Greaves, and Gianfranco Zola do not. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Stefan Savic (Manchester City 2012)
The Richard Ashcroft lookalike may have subsequently revived his standing at Atletico Madrid but his time in England is solely remembered for…well, not a lot really. The occasional glimpse of promise amidst a litany of games where the Montenegrin looked hopelessly out of his depth, a like a hungover fan plucked from the stands.
Savic’s 12 games as understudy to an injury-cursed Kompany earned him a place on the makeshift stage at the Etihad surrounded by streamers and fireworks as the trophy was lifted but in reality he did little but jeopardise City’s achievement throughout.