In an ever changing world where we currently do not have live sport to keep us entertained, I felt it would be an appropriate moment to look back on one of the most monumental feats in Football history as we near the four year anniversary of this heart warming story.
A team that had narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight the season before were crowned the new kings of the Premier League, ripping the crown from the grasp of the status quo that had maintained a stranglehold over the games top prizes for decades.
Pieced together from players plucked from obscurity, managed by a man who had never tasted success in his career, it was little Leicester City who defied the odds and landed a first Premier League title in their 132 year history.
Considered by bookmakers as mere relegation fodder, the season began with the club a massive 5000/1 to win the title, but as Leicester began to pick up wins they soon found themselves at the summit alongside the established cash rich outfits with many expecting an inevitable slide down the table.
It never materialised as Leicester soon became every body’s favourite second team, we all watched on in awe as they gave the big boys a thumb in the eye every week, a joy to behold in a game that had seemingly been lost in recent times due to the Billions of pounds awash within the Premier League.
Other teams had lavished absurd amounts of money on their clubs playing staff and wage bill in order to achieve their aspirations and here were Leicester City breaking the mould, shattering the convention that money would buy success, this was one Premiership Title that would be earned.
Heroes were beginning to emerge across the entire squad.
N’golo Kante was the little engine that could, his relentless and energetic displays left the opposition without a moments rest. This ball winning midfielder was recruited from French second division club Caen and was soon regarded as the most feared tackler in the division, a shrewd acquisition in anyone’s books.
Riyad Mahrez, an unknown entity at the time, was signed for a mere £400,000…an absolute snip in todays bloated transfer market. The silky Algerian lit up our television screens on a weekly basis with his trickery and skills, often seen dropping delightful passes over the opposition backline for his strike partner Jamie Vardy. He was later voted PFA player of the season for his pivotal role in the teams success with his creativity and 17 goals.
Jamie Vardy thrust himself into the limelight with his swashbuckling displays and electric pace, smashing home 24 league goals that season. The former Fleetwood Town frontman also etched his name into the Premier League history books, as he memorably eclipsed the record of former Manchester United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy for scoring in 11 consecutive matches.
Wes Morgan, the ageing club captain, manfully stitched together a back four comprised of performers that were cast aside by the established elite, told they weren’t good enough, players like Danny Simpson once of the mighty Manchester United.
He was a reliable and commanding presence week in, week out at centre back with his partner Robert Huth alongside him. Whilst Kasper Schmeichel, son of the legendary Peter, was consistently outstanding as the last line of defence in goal.
Claudio Ranieri had managed at a plethora of clubs across world Football, yet he had never managed to capture any major league titles. With his diminishing years in terms of age it seemed a strange appointment at the expense of the popular Nigel Pearson, who had masterminded the clubs great escape the previous season.
However, the 64 year old Italian presided over this extraordinary campaign with a reassuring calm, working his way into the public’s affection with his light hearted approach to weekly press conference’s and seemingly being indifferent to the mounting pressure as the season began to head into the home stretch.
When David met Goliath at the Etihad Stadium it was again Leicester who were expected to falter on the final charge. Faced with a Manchester City side that had a team assembled from the finest talent that money could buy, Sergio Aguero and his star studded team mates were expected to put the Foxes back into their hole.
Leicester and Robert Huth had not read the script however, as the German centre half thundered home two towering headers in a 3-1 victory that sent shockwaves through football. The miracle was edging ever closer.
Tottenham Hotspur began to emerge as the only real threat as the season drew to a conclusion, an ill tempered 2-2 draw with arch rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge would hand the title over to Claudio Ranieri’s men as Jamie Vardy threw a famous party at his house, in uplifting scenes that gave football fans across the nation a reason to dream again.
Serenaded onto the pitch in their final game of the season by famous Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli, it was a fitting and emotional moment that encapsulated this incredible journey from the most unlikeliest Premier League Champions of all time.
A truly genuine feel good story that showed us that romance in football was indeed still alive as the rank outsiders bloodied the noses of the corporate big guns in a series of displays that seemed to show that the embodiment of the human spirit cannot be bought and sold.
What this team lacked in stardust was nullified by an unbreakable unity of mind, body, and soul that could not be overcome by the highest bidder.
For that reason this triumph shall go into folklore as one of the greatest of all time.
The Premier League is widely recognised as the one of the finest and most competitive leagues on the planet and has been the home of some extraordinary talent since its inception in 1992.
Today the task is to craft the ultimate team from the superstars of the game that have provided us with so much excitement and fond memories over the past 28 years.
An attack minded 3-4-3 formation forms the basis of the team and to dispel any controversy each selection is no longer active in the Premier League today.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
The towering Dane arrived at Manchester United in 1991 as a virtual unknown and left as a club legend, captaining the club to the unprecented treble in 1999 in what would be his final act for the Red Devils.
Widely lauded as possibly the greatest Goalkeeper to ever grace the game, he was an intimidating and imposing figure for any opponent he came up against, and at times looked unbeatable with his shovel like hands and trademark star shaped spread saving United on countless occasions.
His talents were not restricted to his own penalty box either, his torpedo like long throws being the launchpad for many a counter attack, and if United were in dire straits you would often see him creating havoc in the opposition area for any late corners, most famously in the European Cup final of 1999, leading to Teddy Sheringham scrambling home a precious stoppage time equaliser.
Often seen barking out orders on the pitch to his back four in front of him, Schmeichel was an uncompromising leader who demanded the best from his team mates and was the foundation for United’s all conquering team of the 1990’s.
Defender: Tony Adams
Known as ‘Mr Arsenal’, Adams spent the entirety of his playing career at the Gunners and captained his side to league titles in three different decades.
A commanding presence at the heart of the Arsenal defence, he earned full international honours as he participated in 3 major tournaments for England.
Openly battling gambling addiction and alcoholism throughout the tenure of his career, his desire for success in the game never waivered, his commitment and courage on the pitch earned him the adulation of his peers and the fans.
His crowning glory came in 1998 as Adams strolled through an Everton backline and drilled home the final goal of the season, wrapping up the Gunners first Premier League title in front of the Highbury faithful, a ground he had called home his entire career.
This moment was later encapsulated by the club, as a monument of the image above was later constructed outside the Emirates stadium to honour Adams outstanding contribution to the club.
Defender: Stuart Pearce
This former electrician was known as a fearless, no nonsense defender, who wore his heart on his sleeve everytime he set foot on a football pitch, ferocious in the tackle and the owner of a blockbusting left foot, he found the back of the net 99 times in his career, often from 12 yards or free kicks.
His all action and courageous approach to the game didn’t go unnoticed and he was dubbed “Psycho” by fans and players alike.
Pearce’s career spanned four different Premier League clubs, however it was his time at Nottingham Forest where his committed and dogged displays gained national recognition, earning him a starting postion at both World Cup Italia 90 and Euro 96 for England.
It was these two tournaments that seemed to define the career and character of the man.
Having been the villain of Italia 90 after missing a crucial penalty in the semi final against West Germany, he openly wept on the pitch as England were agonisingly sent home empty handed.
England and Pearce later found themselves in similar terrirtory against Spain in the quarter finals of the European Championships in 1996.
Penalties were to decide England’s fate yet again and as a nation held its breath, up stepped Pearce to exorcise his demons.
Unflinched, he slammed home his penalty, and as the crowd erupted so did Pearce as he punched the air like a Wildman with tears in his eyes in celebration, a true display of guts and bravery that epitomised his career.
Truly an iconic moment that would be forever etched in the memory of a nation.
One of the finest left backs England had ever produced he was capped 78 times by his country and was club Captain of Nottingham Forest for 12 years.
Defender: Vincent Kompany
It seemed that Manchester City had lived in the shadows of arch rivals United ever since both clubs had been in existence, but in 2008 the tides began to shift towards the blue side of the city via a multi million pound takeover by Sheik Mansoor.
A young 22 year old Vincent Kompany was to be one of their first signings under this new regime and whilst multiple players seemed to come and go, Kompany remained a City stalwart for 11 years, bowing out in his final season with yet another Premier League winners medal hung around his neck.
Despite being hampered by a series of injuries throughout his tenure at the Etihad, Kompany’s desire to be the best never waivered, time after time he admirably fought back from the brink of despair to regain his place back in the heart of the City defence.
City were a different proposition with the Belgian leading them into battle on the pitch, his leadership seemed to push the team onto another level and when he wasn’t present his absence was clear to see.
Kompany also had a goal or two in his locker and more often than not he seemed to produce at vital moments when his team needed him the most.
His goal against Leicester City in the closing stages of the 2018/19 season will live long in the memory, with the game locked at 0-0 with 10 minutes to play, it was vital that City picked up 3 points from this fixture with Liverpool snapping at their heels in second place in the league.
Kompany picked up the ball and headed towards goal and unleashed a 30 yard thunderbolt that left Kasper Schmeichel clutching at thin air, as the ball rippled into the net the Ethiad stadium erupted, yet again he had set the example for his team mates and it was fitting that the he would deliver a season defining moment when his team had their backs against the wall.
The Belgian can now be found plying his trade back in his home land at FC Anderlecht, which is where his story began.
Midfielder: Gareth Bale
The Welsh wizard began life in the Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur, signed initially as a left back, Bale’s start to life at White Hart Lane was both rocky and uninspiring.
Seemingly overawed by top flight football and hampered by injury he remarkably did not participate in a victory for his club for over two years.
Soon after Bale broke his supposed ‘jinx’ and overcoming various aches and pains, the youngster began to find his feet and confidence under the guidance of his manager Harry Redknapp, who was adamant he was destined for the top.
Pushed forward onto the left side of midfield, he was freed from his defensive shackles and duly became a world star, thanks to his barnstorming performances in the Champions League against elite level teams such as Internazionale and AC Milan.
Bale called North London his home for six years and left for Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2013, it came as no surprise as he was pure box office each and every week.
His ability to electrify and wow a crowd was a sight to behold, raw pace and power allowing him to conjure up some fantastic goals during his spell at Spurs.
A proud Welshman, he is the lynchpin of his national team and carries the burden of a nations expectations admirably on his shoulders, leading Wales to major tournament qualification twice under his captaincy and he is the holder of the record number of goals for his country with 33.
A mesmerising performer who could destroy defenders at will, his departure to Spain was a true loss to the Premier League.
Midfielder: Matt Le Tissier
This Guernsey born maestro was voted Southampton’s greatest ever player and it is not difficult to see why.
Le Tissier in his pomp was a sight to behold, his balance and grace with the ball at his feet was second to none, he found space when there wasn’t any, crafted goals from nothing, and struck some of the most elegant goals the premier league has ever witnessed.
Penalty taking was also his responsibility and he holds the remarkable record of successfully converting 47 out of 48 spot kicks.
His talent knew no bounds, ‘Le God’ could muster a goal from anywhere, free kicks, a volley, a lob, or beating 3 to 4 men at a time, he had everything in his locker, a real pleasure to watch every week.
Despite overtures from other clubs he stayed loyal to the Saints throughout the entirety of his career, netting 209 times.
His record of just 8 England caps still baffles fans and pundits alike to this day.
Midfielder: Paul Scholes
Regarded by many of his fellow professionals as the greatest midfielder of his generation, Scholes spent the entirety of his career at Manchester United after being promoted to the first team ranks from the much heralded class of 92.
After beginning his career as a striker he was moved into central midfield by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson where he formed a formidable partnership with Roy Keane, becoming an absolutely integral part of Manchester United’s success.
Scholes creativity and eye for the killer final pass became his trademark, along with his ability to keep possession of the ball under pressure and dictate the flow of a game.
He also boasted a healthy strike rate for both Manchester United and England, often seen arriving on cue at the edge of the penalty area for another valuable contribution to the scoresheet.
Often under utilised by England however, he was regularly shunted out of position to accommodate other players, most were simply not in the same class as the ginger genius.
Seemingly disenchanted by this treatment, he retired relatively early from England duty to focus on his club career where he racked up over 700 appearances for Manchester United and won 11 Premier League titles.
Midfielder: Cristiano Ronaldo
Perhaps the greatest footballer of all time, Ronaldo left the Premier League behind just as he was arriving at the peak of his powers, departing for Real Madrid in then a world record transfer for a footballer at £80 million.
However, it was here in England where he forged his reputation under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson for 6 years.
Signed as a fresh faced 18 year old, he was handed the famous number 7 jersey at Old Trafford and with that came the weight of expectation on his young shoulders.
Unfazed, Cristiano performed admirably in his debut season, yet he was often labelled a show pony by opposition fans and became an easy terrace target, even more so after he arrived home from the World Cup in 2006 as public enemy number one, after playing an integral role in getting Wayne Rooney dismissed in the quarter finals of the tournament, leading to Englands exit.
This incident and subsequent fan backlash seemed to inspire the Portuguese winger, his performances getting stronger game by game, an end product to his artistry was finally coming to the fore, which was mirrored by his vastly improved goals and assists record.
The boy had become a man both physically and mentally, a powerful and imposing physique coupled with lightning pace and the ability to score from almost anywhere on the pitch made him a truly frightening opponent.
Not only was he the owner of an outrageous skill set that allowed him to tease and torment his opponents, he was also remarkably strong in the air with a leap an NBA basketball player would be proud of.
His record breaking haul of 42 goals from midfield in 2008 enabled him to finally capture the Ballon D’or trophy for the worlds greatest footballer, an honour he had personally coveted for so long.
Departing in 2009, Cristiano left with 3 premier League titles, an FA cup Winners medal, and a European Cup under his belt.
This was only the beginning for this once in a lifetime athlete.
Striker: Didier Drogba
One of Jose Mourinho’s first signings in his first spell at Chelsea in 2004, Drogba arrived from Marseille with a £24 million price tag around his neck, this seemed to weighed heavy on the Ivorian, labelled a cheat and a diver as he struggled to find form early on in his Premier League career.
Eventually finding his feet and confidence, Drogba gradually changed those perceptions, as a lone frontman he became a goal scoring monster who chewed up defenders and spat them out.
His physical prowess and devastating finishing ability propelled Chelsea to a golden era in their history, many of his 157 goals arriving in momentous matches and occasions.
It was therefore fitting that it was the man himself who would dispatch the match winning penalty against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League Final in his last outing for the club.
Drogba had bowed out of Stamford Bridge with a fairytale ending as Chelsea Sealed their one and only European Cup in their history and he was later voted their best player of all time.
Striker: Thierry Henry
Arriving at Arsenal in 1999 from Juventus, Henry had yet to truly reach his full potential despite a big money move to the Serie A giants after a successful World Cup campaign in 1998 with his home nation France.
Signed by his fellow countryman Arsene Wenger For £11 million, he was promptly placed into the unfamiliar position of central striker, it proved to be a stroke of genius by Wenger as he flourished in his new found role and became one of the most feared strikers in the game for the next eight years that he spent at Arsenal.
Possessing a truly frightening turn of pace with an eye for the spectacular, he became a unstoppable force and was simply unplayable on his day, seemingly running teams ragged by himself each and every week.
His remarkable talent led Arsenal to two league titles and two FA Cup titles during his stay at the club, with the unprecedented 2004 campaign being amongst those honours, as Arsenal went the entire league campaign unbeaten, earning the tag of the invincibles.
Henry himself was a huge contributing factor, his insatiable appetite for goals and success drove him on to become the clubs leading all time goal scorer, finding the back of the net 228 times in his illustrious career at Arsenal.
The Frenchman’s place in Arsenal folklore is cemented permanently after a statue in his honour was commissioned at the Emirates Stadium.
Quite simply one of the most sensational players to have ever graced these shores, it seemed criminal that he was never crowned world player of the year by FIFA.
Striker: Alan Shearer
The leading Premier League marksman of all time, this man stands alone at the top of the goalscoring mountain with 260 goals to his name, a model of consistency throughout his playing career.
Beginning his club career at Southampton, it wasn’t long before his powerful and impressive performances began to catch the eye of other top flight sides and he was soon snapped up by Blackburn Rovers for £3.6 million.
It was here where he was a part of a title winning team for the only time in his career, firing Blackburn Rovers to the Premier League crown in 1995, his stonking record of 112 goals in 138 games promptly earned him a switch to his hometown club Newcastle United, where he remained until his retirement from the game. becoming The Magpies and the Premier leagues greatest ever striker.
known as Mr dependable throughout his international and club career, his game was built on aggression and an ability to hold his own in a physical battle with any opposing defenders, a lethal finisher with both his head and feet, Shearer was simply a goal machine.
Gaining 62 caps for England until his retirement from international duty in the year 2000, he struck 30 times and led the line admirably as captain.
A man who was seemingly unmotivated by money and championships, Shearer happily lived out his childhood dream simply playing for his hometown club, and he was adored on Tyneside by the fans in equal Measure.
Eventually Jackie Milburn’s long standing club record of 200 goals was eclipsed by him and Shearer retired with a astounding haul of 206 goals for Newcastle United in all competitions.
This is my ultimate team compiled from being a follower of the beautiful game for the past 30 years, thus attempting to condense such a huge pool of talent into a outfit of 11 players was both an enjoyable and arduous task.
I firmly believe that this starting line up with its combined talents would be all conquering, yet I also realise that everyone will have their own opinion on the subject and that is one of the greatest aspects of the game we love.
Therefore I ask the question…..Who would make it into your ultimate team?!
Feel free to leave any comments down below and I look forward to hearing from any readers on the matter.