Leicester ready to erupt into title celebrations

Leicester City players and fans celebrating a goal at the The King Power Stadium earlier this month. The Foxes can still win the Premier League title at their home ground against Everton next Sunday if they fail to do so against Manchester United at
Leicester City players and fans celebrating a goal at the The King Power Stadium earlier this month. The Foxes can still win the Premier League title at their home ground against Everton next Sunday if they fail to do so against Manchester United at Old Trafford this weekend.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • A collective euphoria has gripped Leicester's humdrum streets as the often-overlooked English city stands at the cusp of achieving global sporting immortality.

The possibility of Leicester City scoring one of sporting history's most unlikely triumphs is very real.

Yet many among the 330,000 population in the Midlands city will not talk about their team winning the Premier League title for fear of jinxing their heroes.

"If you look at all the fans, the people, the city, it's an incredible, incredible time," said Ian Smith, while re-adjusting his Leicester City scarf.

"It means the world to them. A once-in-a-lifetime experience."

But the impossible dream will become a reality if the Foxes win at Manchester United on Sunday.

  • 5,000-1

  • Leicester City's odds of becoming Premier League champions at the start of the season.

The club, who started the season as one of the relegation favourites and 5,000/1 shots to finish top, would still have two more matches to seal their first top-flight title if they were to draw or lose at Old Trafford.

The temperature will ramp up a notch today when the city's landmarks, houses and shops will be illuminated and draped in blue until the end of the season.

Fans nervous about Sunday's big match will be able to calm their nerves in the city's pubs with a "Vardy bomb", a cocktail invented in honour of star striker Jamie Vardy.

Others are seeking divine intervention, with a city-centre street preacher now using football to begin his sermon while singing the praises of "Saint Vardy".

Fruit and vegetable seller Scott Lee said the absence of "big time Charlies" in the squad was a key part of their success.

"Manchester United spent £270 million (S$528.15 million) and have got nothing. We've got a team like Leicester, they play together and are friends," he said.

"(Japanese forward) Shinji Okazaki was around town last week. I talked to him, didn't understand him, but a lovely man. You wouldn't see that at Chelsea."

He is in no doubt that the country is behind them, and that they will have the world's support when they tackle Europe's elite in next season's Champions League.

"The world likes it, it's the underdog story. We'll beat them (United), we've got a team, not just individual players," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Leicester ready to erupt into title celebrations'. Print Edition | Subscribe