Leicester City Football Club: Behind the Club
In this series, we profile one Premier League team each week, looking at some of the history, records and trivia associated with each club. This week we profile Leicester City FC. Join us on a journey from 1884 to 2018 as we go, Behind the Club.
Alumni of Wyggeston school established Leicester Fosse FC in 1884, the name being a reference to the Fosse Road by which the club first played fixtures.
The club was elected into the Football League in 1890, 1904 and finally in 1915. Financial issues caused Leicester Fosse to disband by the time the league resumed after WWI in 1919, but they quickly reformed as Leicester City FC.
By 1925, manager Peter Hodge had led them to the Division Two title. Headed by club legends Arthur Chandler and Adam Black, Leicester retained top flight status for 10 years, the highlight of which was a second-place finish in 1929, behind Sheffield Wednesday.Embed from Getty Images
After two relegations and one promotion between 1935 and 1939, the league was once again halted as the world went to war.
The league returned again in 1945 and Leicester continued in Division Two, making a surprise run to the Final of the FA Cup in 1949, where they eventually lost to Wolves. This period is also the origin of their nickname the Foxes, after a Fox was incorporated into the club logo in 1948.
Not long after this in 1950/51, striker Arthur Rowley was signed from Fulham. Rowley went on to lead the line for the Foxes for eight seasons, top scoring in them all.
They yo-yoed between the First and Second Divisions in that time, but stabilised as former player Matt Gillies took the reins after Rowley was unceremoniously sold, a factor which contributed heavily to former manager David Halliday’s dismissal in 1958/59.
They stormed to two FA Cup Finals in 1961 and 1963, but lost to Tottenham and Manchester United respectively. They looked set to win their first League title in 1962/63, but slipped to fourth after taking only one point from their final five games.
Silverware was to follow however, Gillies led the Foxes to a 4-3 aggregate League Cup final victory over Stoke City for their first trophy. They finished runners-up the following season as well, losing to Chelsea.
At this point, the team was backed up by one of the finest goalkeepers of all-time. Gordon Banks had arrived from Chesterfield in 1959 and by 1966 he was the best keeper in the world. After England’s world cup victory, he became the only Leicester player to date to be nominated for the Ballon D’or.
Gillies resigned after a poor start to the 1968/69 season, and the club slid to their first relegation in 14 years. Though they returned to the second tier, they managed to once again reach the FA Cup final where they were defeated 1-0 by Manchester City.
The Foxes returned to the first division in 1971 and tasked manager Jimmy Bloomfield with keeping them there.
Bloomfield successfully led Leicester to safety every season until he left six years later. His departure was felt badly within the club and they were relegated once again in 1978.
Another yo-yo period ensued, with two further promotions and relegations before 1990. It was during this time that legendary striker Gary Lineker came through Leicester’s academy, helping them to promotion and survival before leaving for Everton 1985.
As the 1990s began, the Foxes were deep in a battle to avoid relegation to the third tier, surviving in 1991 only after winning their final game of the season.
Brain Little was brought in as manager for 1991/92, and led them to three consecutive play-off berths.Embed from Getty Images
They were defeated 1-0 in the final in 1992 by Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of a controversial penalty. This meant that Leicester failed to secure their place in the first season of the newly rebranded Premier League.
The following season they were defeated in the final again. On this occasion Swindon town triumphed 4-3, after Leicester had drawn level from 3-0 down.
They were not to be denied however, and in 1994 they were finally victorious. On this occasion, the Foxes beat Derby County 2-1, finally securing their first season in the Premier League and ending a seven-year top-flight exile in the process.
The joy of promotion was short lived, and Leicester were immediately relegated again having managed only six wins in 42 league fixtures.
Brian Little had left in November to take charge of Aston Villa, and his replacement Mark McGhee lasted only until the following December in December. Martin O’Neill was appointed, and managed the club to an immediate return to the Premier League via the play-offs again.
This time the Foxes would establish themselves. Shrewd signings including the midfield pairing of Muzzy Izzet and Neil Lennon drove Leicester to four consecutive top 10 finishes, and they reached the League Cup final in three of those four years.
They were victorious in two of those, 1997 and 2000, beating Middlesbrough and Tranmere Rovers respectively, and qualified for the UEFA Cup as a result.
Having won the club’s first silverware in 26 years and earned a place in European competition for the first time in 35 years, O’Neill became hot property.
Interest from Leeds United was fended off, but at the end of his contract O’Neill crossed the border to take the reins at Scottish giants Celtic.
After an excellent start to 2000/01, the club began to slide into difficulty. Poor signings and management led to relegation in 2002, and they entered administration in October of that year.
Leicester moved from Filbert Street to the new Walkers Stadium, and the club was taken over by a consortium led by Gary Lineker.
An impressive instant return to the Premier League was won in 2003, but relegation followed again and they would stay out of the Premier League for another 10 years.
Arguably the Foxes’ lowest point occurred in 2008, when they were relegated to the third tier for the first time in their history, despite having been bought by business tycoon Milan Mandaric only a year previously.
Nigel Pearson led them to an instant return however, before something of a hierarchical merry-go-round began.
Paulo Sousa and Sven Goran Eriksson came and went as manager, before Pearson returned just a season and a half after leaving for Hull City. Mandaric also sold the Foxes to a Thai based consortium, fronted by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
In Pearson’s first full season after his return, Leicester were on the wrong end of the incredible passage of play which saw Watford’s Troy Deeney score a 97th minute winner to take them to the play-off final at Leicester’s expense.
The pain was short-lived. They brushed aside all competition to win the Championship title a year later, helped by the goals of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Despite an encouraging start to their first top-flight season in a decade, including a 5-3 victory over Manchester United, they were bottom at Christmas, and many pundits had them nailed on for relegation after they were seven points adrift after 29 games.
A remarkable turnaround followed, 22 points were gained from their final nine games. They finished 14th, but Nigel Pearson left in the summer after a sex-tape scandal involving three youth players, including his son.
Claudio Ranieri’s appointment raised a few eyebrows that summer, but the doubters were emphatically proved wrong as the 5000-1 outsiders stormed to the Premier League title with 81 points.Embed from Getty Images
Having sold influential midfielder N’golo Kante, the Foxes struggled to match their exploits of 2015/16, and Ranieri was sacked despite guiding them to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Craig Shakespeare took charge and spearheaded a two-leg victory over Sevilla, which proved the springboard for the rest of the season, as Leicester comfortably survived but were eventually knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Atletico Madrid.
Shakespeare himself failed to see out a full season, as he departed in similar circumstances to Ranieri. Claude Puel came in in October, and has guided the Foxes to a steady 8th position currently.
In the last 10 years, the Foxes have won League One, The Championship and the Premier League, completed the mathematically greatest Premier League survival of all time, and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The Leicestershire roller-coaster has been on the up for 10 years, but will it come down soon?
Records and Trivia
During the League title winning 2015/16 season, striker Jamie Vardy scored in 11 consecutive Premier League games, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s previous record of 10.
Leicester’s record signing is striker Islam Slimani. The Foxes shelled out £28 million to Sporting Lisbon to acquire the Algerian striker’s services in summer 2016.
The player with the most appearances for Leicester is Graham Cross, who made 599 appearances in all competitions for the Foxes between 1961 and 1975.
Leicester currently lie 18th in the all-time Premier League table, lodged between Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.
In three of their four seasons in European competition, they were knocked out by Spanish club Atletico Madrid, the exception being the 2000/01 UEFA Cup, in which they lost to Red Star Belgrade in the first round.
Football League: Champions – 2015/16
FA Cup: Runners up (4) – 1948/49, 1960/61, 1692/63, 1968/69
Football League Cup:Champions – 1963/64, 1996/97, 1999/2000
Champions League/European Competition: Quarter Finals (Champions League) – 2016/17
Written by Sam Hanys.