Leicester win: How Claudio Ranieri's story compares to 'Cindarella Man'
04 May 2016, 13:10
James J. Braddock is an Irish-American boxer from New Jersey, formerly a light heavyweight contender, who is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring.
As the United States enters the Great Depression (1929-39), Braddock does manual labor as a dock worker to support his family, even with his injured hand. Unfortunately, he cannot get work every day. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, an unexpected chance to fill in for just one night and earn cash emerges. The fight is against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin.
Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believes that while his right hand was broken, he became more proficient with his left hand, improving his in-ring ability. For this unlikely feat he was given the nickname "Cinderella Man" by Damon Runyon.
This story might as well be about Leicester City and a team led by a misfit in Claudio Ranieri. Himself a journeyman manager, with stints in clubs as far flung as Campania Puteolana in Italy and English giants Chelsea, the man infamously nicknamed the Tinker man managed to assemble a squad that included a Manchester City reject, Kasper Schmeichel; a signing from French Division Two club Le Havre and Jamie Vardy a striker with little in the way of playing stability. With a squad assembled for about £22 million. Compare this with £292.9m, the cost of Manchester City's squad.
In an exceptional and simply stunning season, striker Jamie Vardy scored 13 goals over 11 consecutive games from August to November, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League record of scoring in 10 consecutive games. On 19 December Leicester defeated Everton 3–2 at Goodison Park to top the Premier League on Christmas Day, having been bottom exactly 12 months earlier. A 2–0 victory at Sunderland on 10 April, coupled with Tottenham's 3–0 win over Manchester United, ensured Leicester's qualification for the Champions League for the first time in their history. Leicester won the Premier League on 2 May 2016, after Tottenham Hotspur failed to secure a win against Chelsea. Leicester's title win was secured despite bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill offering odds of 5,000-1 for it at the start of the season, which resulted in the largest payout in British sporting history with total winnings of £25 million.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who once remarked, “Football? Bloody Hell!” This followed his side’s comeback win from the dead to stun a powerful Bayern Munich side and lift the European Cup in 1999.
In July 2015 last year, an out of work Claudio Ranieri received a phone call from his agent, Steve Kutner. The agent had been attempting to convince Jon Rudkin, Leicester City’s director of football that his client was worth considering as the club’s new manager. The rest as the cliché says is now footballing history.
There are many lessons worth considering here. Never ever give up. Anything is indeed possible. From odds of 5,000 to 1 – in perspective all it means is you get paid 5,000 for every 1 of anything you put down as a bet! Lady Luck is a friend to no one. The odds of a relatively unknown club like the Foxes bagging a Premier League title are unfathomable…yet here we are. This will no doubt be of immense encouragement to any club with an ambitious mentality.
After all, a strong head start does not mean a strong finish. Using that thinking, nations like Egypt and India would be at the forefront of world development today.
All fairy tales end with happily ever after. Life will change forever moving forward. The new champions get to open the season with the Charity Shield, contested between the winner of the Premier League and FA Cup. What is most interesting is playing against the likes of Lionel Messi and Barcelona, for the first time ever, in the UEFA Champions League. This is all in addition to a super payout in prize money, given to all domestic champions.
There is a worthy toast to a most exciting game.
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