Leicester City have won the English Premier League title for the first time in their 132-year history. A number of factors have contributed to their unexpected success this season.
1. Team spirit
The entire team has bought into coach Claudio Ranieri's team-first concept and the coach and any of his players who have been asked recently have said the same thing. "The secret has been team spirit," winger Riyad Mahrez said after receiving the Player of the Year Award at the Professional Footballers' Association awards night last weekend. "We work so hard for each other. We are like brothers, it's everywhere on the pitch. That's our strength. If sometimes we are not good, we know we are going to run and make the effort for our teammates." This brings us to…
2. Riyad Mahrez
The Algerian was voted by his peers as the player of the year with good reason. Mahrez, who was virtually unknown when he moved to Leicester from French second division side Le Havre for a transfer fee of just 400,000 pounds (513,000 euros, $577,000) in 2014, has brought inventiveness and flair to the attack. "Riyad is our light," Ranieri enthused recently. "When he switches on, wow, Leicester change color! That is the truth." With 17 goals and 11 assists so far this season, the French-born Mahrez has also put up the numbers to back up his coach's claim.
Riyad Mahrez has gone from virtual obscurity to being named player of the year by his Premier League peers
3. Jamie Vardy
Only Tottenham's Harry Kane and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero have scored more than Vardy's 22 goals this campaign. Vardy, who just four years ago helped Fleetwood Town gain promotion to the Football League, finished as runner up to Mahrez in the PFA Player of the Year voting. He did, however, pick up the award given by England's sports journalists. The 29-year-old striker received a special award for having scored in 11 consecutive games, breaking a record that had been held by Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ranieri has described his top goal scorer as "a fantastic horse."
4. Claudio Ranieri
The Italian coach returned to England last summer to take charge of a team, whose aim was earning 40 points in an effort to avoid the drop. Ranieri is the man responsible for instilling the team-first attitude in his players. "I want you to play for your teammates.
We are a little team, so we have to fight with all our heart, with all our soul," is what Ranieri told his players shortly after arriving at the club, according to recent article the coach penned for "The Players' Tribune." "I don't care the name of the opponent. All I want is for you to fight," he said. Another factor is the consistency of the starting lineup that he sends out week after week. Dismissed by the English media as the "tinkerman," for over-rotating his squad during his days as Chelsea manager more than a decade ago, Ranieri has used just 19 players during this Premier League season, 11 of whom have made 26 or more starts.
5. Higher powers
Some credit higher powers with helping the "Foxes" turn things around. First, there is the theory that the spirit of King Richard III has something to do with the team's run of success. In 2012, the king's battle-scarred skeleton was discovered under a Leicester parking lot. When his bones were reburied in a service attended by royalty and religious leaders in March 2015, Leicester City were dead last in the Premier League. However, after the funeral, the Foxes went on a run, winning seven of their last nine games to avoid the drop. Then there is Buddist monk Phra Prommangkalachan who was brought in by club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to improve the karma surrounding Leiceter City. By his own account, the monk has visited the club several times "to pray for auspiciousness and luck in the game."