Leicester City have won the English Premier League title in one of the greatest sporting stories of all time.
Written off as relegation candidates at the start of the season, when the bookmakers made Leicester 5,000-1 outsiders to be crowned champions, they secured the first top-flight title in the club’s history after Tottenham were unable to beat Chelsea on Monday night.
Spurs had to win at Stamford Bridge to extend the title race after Leicester’s point at Manchester United on Sunday. They drew 2-2, handing Claudio Ranieri’s side the prize.
It is an incredible tale on so many levels, not least the fact that Leicester were so nearly relegated from the Premier League last season. They spent 140 days at the bottom of the table and looked set for an immediate return to the Championship until they won seven of their last nine matches under Nigel Pearson to climb clear of the bottom three.
When Ranieri took over from Pearson in the summer his appointment was widely mocked. Ranieri mentioned only a few weeks ago that he was aware he had been installed as the favourite to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked yet, in keeping with his image, the Italian never returned fire on his critics.
Instead, he quietly went about the job of transforming Leicester into title challengers, only admitting that they were in the race four matches before the end of the season. He changed their targets step by step, from getting to 40 points, qualifying for Europe and securing their place in the Champions League group stage, and now the final box – doing the unthinkable and winning the league – has been ticked off.
It is a narrative that belongs to a different era – Nottingham Forest, in 1978, were the last first-time winners – and means that Ranieri, at the age of 64, has finally won a major league. He finished second in the Premier League with Chelsea in 2004 and was twice a runner-up in Serie A, and once in Ligue 1. Now the man José Mourinho described in 2008 as having “the mentality of someone who doesn’t need to win” has a Premier League title on his CV.