Exclusive Interview: Peter Shilton – Leicester City’s 2016 Premier League Victory
On Monday night, as Tottenham’s last-ditch attempts to salvage victory at Stamford Bridge descended into a blur of yellow cards, Leicester achieved what was considered to be the impossible. Having been written off all season, widely underestimated and their stamina called consistently into question, the Foxes had finally secured the most unlikely Premier League title victory.
This small provincial city in the East Midlands has enjoyed sporting success several times before, but never of this magnitude. Following the announcement, fireworks illuminated the sky, and the King Power Stadium was the scene of the biggest impromptu party Leicester had yet seen.
Having made almost 300 appearances for City early in his career, Peter Shilton is better placed than most to reflect on Claudio Ranieri and his men. And the media turned to him in their droves for his reaction.
“They’ve all played a blinder!”
Speaking to BBC Sport and Channel 4 News among others, he was fulsome in his praise for the likes of Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez. He also expressed his admiration for the achievement of Leicester’s manager, who fans seriously doubted upon his appointment, but have since come to celebrate and admire.
Q: What do you credit to Leicester City’s unprecedented success?
“It’s clear to me that the club is run very well from top to bottom. The directors have made many excellent decisions and been rightly low key. Right down to the groundsmen, hospitality people, day-to-day general staff and even the guys on the turnstiles, they’ve all played a blinder.”
“The scouts have to take a lot of credit for bringing in the right players, but Claudio and his coaching staff have been outstanding. They have kept the squad’s feet on the ground, even while they’ve been doing so well, and maintained a great sense of togetherness and team spirit. Their discipline has been incredible in the circumstances, especially when you look at how Spurs went into meltdown against Chelsea.”
“The team’s really well-balanced and strong throughout. The goalkeeper has won them a lot of points and Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have been solid as a rock at the back. Kante has so much energy and not only breaks up the play but builds quick moves for the pacey attackers to use their obvious flair."
"Most of all, though, they work so hard for each other and the manager.”
Q: What is the next step for the club?
“Looking ahead to next season, the top priority is to hold on to the players who’ve served the club so well this year. That might be tricky in one or two cases, but I can see them holding on to the majority with the promise of Champions League football and maybe attracting one or two quality players."
"That’s all the squad really needs – a couple more players to give the depth to cope with European competition. They need to bring in the right type of players for the system and the right characters to keep the same team ethic.”
Q: What are Leicester's prospects for next season?
“We know from this year that you’d be daft to write off Leicester next season. I think it’s realistic that Ranieri targets a top-four finish and that the fans can expect a reasonable run in the Champions League. After all, you don’t want to win the league and not give a good account of yourselves in Europe – you’ve got to make this year’s efforts worthwhile and I think there’s every reason they can do well.”
“Everyone in Europe is looking at Leicester City at the minute. But none of them will relish taking them on.”
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