There are certain pitfalls to being a club’s first title-winning side. Leicester City’s once-unheralded players discovered yesterday that going for a pizza is no longer so easy once you’re a Premier League champion.
Once word spread the squad was celebrating at an Italian restaurant, hundreds of fans crowded into the central shopping district to provide a hero’s welcome for English soccer’s most improbable champions.
Leaving the San Carlo restaurant was even harder as the entrance was besieged by supporters desperate to catch a glimpse of the team that defied soccer logic by accomplishing one of the greatest turnarounds in sports history.
The Foxes had just survived the serious threat of relegation last year when they were made 5,000-1 outsiders for the title in August. Nine months later, British bookmakers are making multi-million pound payouts to those Leicester fans who bet on their team out of loyalty rather than expectation of glory.
“It is safe to say I never thought I would be in this position now,” captain Wes Morgan said. “The journey we’ve been on is fantastic. It’s an achievement that might not be achieved again.”
No wonder the 32-year-old Morgan and his teammates are savoring every minute of it. Few players would be happy trudging into training after delivering a title for a manager who expected to be in a relegation battle, but the groggy-eyed squad reported for duty as expected yesterday morning.
The players had been apart for only a few hours after watching together at top-scorer Jamie Vardy’s house as the title was clinched by second-place Tottenham’s challenge ending with a draw at Chelsea.
The training session ended only after the club’s Thai owners landed by helicopter at the facility, which is surrounded by tightly packed rows of houses, to greet the players. They will all surely never get tired of having to pose with “Champions” banners and sing “Champione.”
En route to lunch there was a brief stop by their King Power stadium, where one supporter—a dead-ringer for Vardy—was briefly allowed onto the team coach to greet the striker.
Vardy himself could probably have done with assistance cleaning up his house after hosting a party to celebrate the best night in the club’s 132-year history.
“The boys were standing on furniture - I hope Vards’ house is all right,” Morgan said.
“After the initial euphoria, a lot of people couldn’t believe what had happened. There were a few tears.”
Twitter reported an 86 percent spike in usual activity in Britain as Leicester won the title, with the most-shared posts coming from inside the party at Vardy’s house