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FA Cup glory is far from an epilogue to Leicester City’s fairytale

You’ll do well to find a neutral who wasn’t rooting for Leicester City in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

The Foxes have quickly become the nation’s – and indeed Europe’s – darlings after so many of us cheered them on to their unthinkable Premier League glory in 2016. It’s safe to say they are probably the most popular ‘second team’ in the sport.

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So, our plucky underdogs found themselves being roared on by an entire country (minus Chelsea supporters, maybe some Nottingham Forest ones) on Saturday afternoon, as they aimed to win the FA Cup for the first time in their long and storied history.

Of course, as the fairytale goes, our David struck Goliath with one almighty blow, killing the heavyweight favourites stone dead (the only difference being, Goliath probably wasn’t left fuming by VAR technology at the valley of Elah).

So the football Gods shone down on Leicester once again this weekend, as a Youri Tielemans thunderbolt saw them battle to a famous 1-0 victory over favourites Chelsea.

Favourites, even if they sit below the Foxes in the table. That’s right. Our darlings, our plucky underdogs, are no longer the collection of misfits and Battersea Rescue dogs that they were five years ago.

The absolute boys
The absolute boys | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (and his late father Vichai) has spent the past five years nurturing Leicester and building a side which no longer requires the help of miracles to finish in the upper echelons of the Premier League.

The appointment of Brendan Rodgers was a masterstroke, employing a man who embodied the hunger and desire of the city of Leicester. They’d tasted glory, and they wanted more of it.

And all of that careful planning has led to this day. The Foxes’ FA Cup success is a massive achievement, but it is not a surprise.

While the fairytale stories are still smattered throughout the squad – Jamie Vardy playing in every single round of the FA Cup, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Marc Albrighton being at the heart of it all again – there are far fewer of these football miracles.

Jamie Vardy, you have just won the #FACup pic.twitter.com/o263rEiLng

— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 15, 2021

The spine of the team is as strong as any other in the division. Wesley Fofana has been a revelation in his debut Premier League campaign, while Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans have continued the good work from last year.

The full-back area is stacked with talent, and the midfield partnership of Wilfred Ndidi and Tielemans has got the lot. A special shoutout has to go to Tielemans, whose winning goal simply demonstrated the extraordinary talent he possesses, and how much he can develop under Rodgers.

Up top, Vardy continues to wreak havoc, but the surprise return to form of Kelechi Iheanacho has kept the Foxes’ season alive. Then, the likes of James Maddison and Ayoze Perez are there to sprinkle stardust all over the pitch.

This team is capable of great things. The players which shut Chelsea out for 90 minutes did so because they are truly excellent footballers, coached by an intelligent and adventurous manager.

FA Cup…completed it mate! ? pic.twitter.com/5PrbPfGTgj

— Jamie Vardy (@vardy7) May 15, 2021

And the constant growth only points to even more quality additions arriving in the summer transfer window, as the club’s profile grows with each passing year. These are exciting times, and the sky is truly the limit.

Our love for Leicester is no longer down to a miracle event five years ago. It’s because they are a well-run, ambitious, likeable club who are approaching the sport of football as it should be treated: with respect for the game, and with respect for their supporters.

Leicester’s FA Cup triumph is not an epilogue to a glorious fairytale – it’s the confirmation of a brand new era for a wonderful football team. Long may it continue.

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