Leicester City have now had a few days to get used to the fantastical idea that they are Premier League champions. Should anyone at the club still be pinching themselves to ensure it was not just the most glorious of dreams, reality should truly sink in on Saturday when they lift the Premier League trophy in front of a packed house at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.
The chance to be one of 32,000 in attendance to see the club lift its first ever top-division trophy and the culmination of the most remarkable triumph English football has ever seen has made a ticket to Saturday’s match with Everton the hottest in town. There will be 90 minutes of action out on the field, but it will take a backseat to a party that has been raging since Tottenham failed to beat Chelsea on Monday night.
And it will be a party that takes in a performance from Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli, who contacted his compatriot Claudio Ranieri to say he wished to pay tribute to the 5,0000-1 underdogs.
Asked if it would be the greatest moment of his life when he lifts the Premier League title, the man who has finished second with Chelsea, Juventus, Roma and Monaco, Ranieri also pointed back to the start of his career when guiding Cagliari from Serie C to Serie A.
“Could be, but I'd like to remember because, you say this is a fairytale—but my fairytale started in Cagliari a long time ago,” the Leicester manager said in his press conference on Thursday. “I came from non-league and I won Serie C, Serie B, Serie A and then from there I flew. That was my first fairytale and now there is another.”
“To win the title in the Premier League is something special and more special here in Leicester, more with these fantastic lads. Unbelievable.”
As a testament to how much Ranieri feels the spirit among his squad has contributed to their success, he has stressed that the money and prestige earned from winning the title and reaching the Champions League won’t simply go to signing the biggest named players around. He also outlined why he thinks his star men, such as Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, should stick around for the time being.
“I don’t want the big names here, I don’t want to break the dressing room,” he said. “My lads are special. Of course we want to buy some good players, but who arrives must have the same spirit. We want to grow up together. I suggest to all my players stay with us one more year. Don’t go, it’s much better you stay here and play here. If you go to another big team maybe you make the luggage.”
First, though, there are two matches to play, first against Everton and then on the final day of the season at the home of the deposed champions Chelsea. On both occasions, Leicester will have to do without one of the lynchpins of their title success, Robert Huth, after the defender was handed a three-match ban for pulling the hair of Marouane Fellaini during last week’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
On Saturday, though, Leicester will welcome back top scorer Jamie Vardy, after the striker completed his own suspension.
Match time: 12:30 p.m. EDT
TV channel: USA
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra