Yesterday Leicester City Football Club were crowned the champions of the England Premier League. The first time in their more than 120 year existence that they are top of the pile in the English football pyramid. (For my American, Australian, New Zealand, Japanese readers and anyone else out there, football means soccer.)
This has been called one of the biggest upsets in sporting history and I tend to agree. To come out on top over a 9 month season over 38 games takes a lot of something and that is what I want to talk about today.
So, What can we learn from Leicester's Premier League triumph? This is an interesting question because what can sport teach us about life. Lots (heaps for my NZ readers) it seems. Before I get into this post I just want to say that I haven't really been following the Premier League this year and I am a bandwagon jumper, guilty as charged.
1. Leadership. In life you need a good leader and from what I can tell Claudio Ranieri is that. He's been there and done that and has the experience and in life that is crucial. How many times have you been at a job interview and they ask if you have any experience and you stutter and look down and try to come up with an appropriate response. Experience is everything as it allows you to get out of the sticky situations that life throws at you from time to time.
2. Loyalty. What I like about English sporting fans is their loyalty. When you ask them what team do they support you very rarely get a response like Manchester United or Chelsea unless they have been supporting them their whole lives, you will invariably get a response like Preston North End or my personal favourite, Leyton Orient. So to see the Leicester fans celebrating so passionately yesterday was a great reward for their loyalty and I hope that other smaller club fans have that kind of experience in the coming years.
Talking about English sporting fans, my personal favourite are the Barmy Army. This is the group who follow the English cricket team around the world. Inventing songs and creating an amazing atmosphere at the grounds they go to. Here is an example. I wish New Zealand sporting fans could be like this but we are quite a passive lot. Go to an All Blacks' game and you will know what I mean.
3. Passion. As a rugby follower I do get sick of watching football players shouting and gesticulating at the referees and opposition players and the diving and hollywoods and play acting can be a little boring but you can't fault the passion that the people involved with football show. From the players right through to the supporters, they live, breathe, talk football 24/7. They love it. Wouldn't it be good to find something like that where you can't stop talking about it, you can't stop thinking about it and you can't wait to get up in the morning to get into it.
4. Intelligence. We sometimes associate our sporting heroes as been rather thick (for American readers this means dumb, not fat.) and not having much upstairs but Leicester's triumph shows that to be successful in sport you need some intelligence. As I said earlier I haven't been following the season closely until the last few weeks but it seems that Leicester maybe similar to Billy Beane's Moneyball. This is a story about a guy taking a small market team in Major League Baseball in America into the playoffs by basically using his intelligence rather than just throwing money around here and there like Chelsea or New York Yankees may do.
5. Skill. You might have the passion and you might have the intelligence but without the skill you are not going to get anywhere. So Leicester maybe a small market team but their players obviously can play the game. Each of those players have grown up honing their craft, building their determination and it has all come to a head in the Premier League in 2015/2016. The players were ready and they were not going to be denied.
There you have it, the Premier League champions are Leicester City and they deserve it. There was no luck involved, well maybe the odd goal post here and there. They deserve all the adulation they will get and it will be interesting to see how they back up next season. Claudio Ranieri has already said that it will be difficult to repeat next season but you never know. Anything is possible in sport. I mean name the only unbeaten team at the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in South Africa? If you said Spain, you would be incorrect.