Football: Euphoria in streets of Leicester as outsiders take title

LEICESTER (AFP) - Ecstatic fans rushed into the streets of Leicester on Monday as the outsiders won the Premier League in a victory seen as the most astonishing in the history of English football.

Dancing crowds dressed in the team's blue jerseys hugged each other and chanted songs honouring the team heroes like boss Claudio Ranieri and striker Jamie Vardy, linchpins of the team's first victory in its 132 years.

"There is only one Ranieri," chanted the crowds in celebration of the Italian manager. "Ranieri, oooh, ooh." "This year I got married and had a baby, but this tops it all," said Steve Robinson, 26.

In the area around the cathedral where the skeleton of Richard III was buried after it was discovered under a carpark in 2012 - a fact seen by some to have brought the city luck - the streets were filled with waving blue and white flags.

"It's going to be a big and long party, because we have waited a long time for this," said tourist guide Steve Bruce.


At Hogarths pub nearby, fans urged on Chelsea to beat Tottenham Hotspur into second place in the deciding match, chanting "Come on Chelsea, come on Chelsea" and copying the cheers of fans from the television.

As the 2-2 draw decided Leicester had made history, the fans jumped and danced in elation and disbelief.

"I'm going to party! Ive been supporting Leicester since I was 14 years old, can you imagine what this means for me?" said Caroline Wilkins, 60, who said she watched the match with a friend because her husband hates football.

"I feel on top of the world, I feel I'm in heaven!" Chris Whiting, 20, said he had started to fear the victory might slip through Leicester's fingers when Tottenham were two goals up in the first half of the game.

"I still can't believe it... I started worrying about the next game," Whiting said. "This is a real relief." Christine Norton, aged in her 60s, left the pub when Spurs scored the second goal but returned when Chelsea managed to equalise.

"I told them: if I leave, they'll draw," Norton said. "And here I am, I am really happy, this is a dream." The city had been dyed blue in the build up to the final matches, with one bar selling cappuccinos decorated with Vardy's face, a restaurant selling fried blue fish, and a supermarket even dying their sausages blue.

Marc Wilks, who was selling t-shirts reading "Champions 2015-2016. Leicester Kings of England" said the party would continue for some time to come.

"It's been a fantastic day, very good for the business," Wilks said.

At the start of the season, few believed it was possible for the city of 330,000 people to beat London's five teams and Manchester's two to the title.

Bookmakers offered to pay out £5,000 ($7,335, 6,363 euros) for every pound bet if Leicester won the championship.

But fans got their payback for a lifetime of scorn and taunts by the city's great rival, neighbouring Nottingham Forest, which won the English league once and the European Cup twice in the 1970s but now languishes in the second division.

Student Karishma Kapoor, 20, was laughing all the way to the bank after betting £2 on Leicester winning at the start of the season - giving her a payout of £10,000.

"We are a lot into football at home. So this summer we were discussing the season ahead in my grandma's house and we decided to bet one pound each with my auntie," Kapoor said.

"I would like to save some of it, and go on holidays, hopefully and pay my brother a trip to a Champions League game."