Tuesday, 3 May 2016


(Excerpts of the mail I sent to my team this morning)

This is what Piers Morgan tweeted last night about the fairy tale win of the English Premier League by Leicester City- " No superstars. No money. No fancy stadium. No excuses. No fear. Just passion, desire, hunger and determination." No statement captures the whole experience of Leicester City Football Club this 2015/2016 season better.

Until now, very few people had ever heard of Ngolo Kante, Riyadh Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Robert Huth or Wes Morgan. Some of them were rejects at some former clubs. Jamie Vardy, who would eventually set a new record by scoring in eleven consecutive Premier League games, was once a factory worker who had played for a former club in between shifts for £30 per game. And what more- Jamie Vardy broke the 2002 record set by Ruud Van Nistelroy by playing with a broken wrist. The Forbes magazine had described the team as the 'Premier League small change' team. The entire wage bill was less than that of some players in Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea. Initially, they didn't have any huge ambition. All the coach told them to do was just to get 40 points so they can stay out of relegation. But instead of 40 points, they now have 77 points and won the English Premier League title for the first time in the history of the club.

What lessons can we learn from Leicester City?

The Manager Claudio Ranieri had been dumped from the last club he coached in England in 2004. He was making a comeback to the EPL after more than 11 years and having failed several times. He had just been fired as the coach of Greece because his team lost to little known Faroe Islands, a country of less than 50,000 people- when Leicester City snapped him up. Danny Drinkwater was once with Manchester United but he never quite made the mark. He was discarded and sold to Leicester in 2012. Imagine being sold by a Premiership top side to a football club playing in the Championship (Division 2). The same goes for Matty James. Danny Simpson was loaned out to Ipswich and Blackburn by Manchester United before getting a free transfer to QPR and finally to Leicester. Jamie Vardy had even played for a club in the seventh division, another in the sixth division and yet another in the fifth division. Almost everyone's back was to the ground and they all had something to prove to the world. It was a way of telling the world that 'he that is down needs fear no fall'. In their case, they didn't fear any foe. There is a way failure can propel one to greater success. Failure should be a stimulant and not a depressant.

All of us have something to prove. We have played in the back waters and we have been anonymous for the past few years. Just like Leicester at the start of the season, the odds against us are 5000-1. But we are determined to defy the odds and prove that we can be reckoned with.

The club was not about Jamie Vardy the way Barcelona is about Lionel Messi. When Messi is not at his best, Barcelona is under par. When Messi was injured in September 2015, the coach Luis Enrique said, " Without Messi we lose a lot of things from our style of play so we will now have to rearrange collectively but I have no doubt that we will overcome this".

For Leicester, that's not the story. Everyone came to the team with something. They played for each other. The defenders did their jobs well. The defenders did their job. The attackers did their job. There was no weak link. After Jamie got the red card during a crucial match against West Ham, the club still went ahead to defeat Swansea City by four goals. That was the largest margin of victory so far for them in the EPL. They went to Old Trafford and secured a draw. In the absence of Vardy, Ulloa stepped up. The absence of one player did not spell doom for the club.

When Jamie Vardy got an award after breaking Nistelroy's record, he said: "I’m over the moon but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team". After the defeat of Swansea, Mahrez would say "three games to go and we are all working for each other."

We need to keep working as a team. We need to look out for one another. We should cover up identified deficiencies immediately. The team's performance is more important than an individual's brilliant display. While an individual brilliant display can win you some recognition, only a spectacular team performance can win the cup.


In the game against Aston Villa if September 2015, Jamie Vardy's wrist was fractured in 3 places. Since then, he's been wearing a blue cast on his wrist. "I have got three fractures in my wrist which have not healed as we thought they would," he said."Wearing the cast means I can't do anymore damage to them, so I am happy to just keep wearing it and carry on with the games." Jamie Vardy played through the pain barrier and has scored 22 goals so far.

There is a way pain nourishes courage. There is a way challenges inspire confidence. We all go through hardships but how do we respond? We have two choices: to stop playing or to continue to push on through the pain barrier. You can also wrap up your wrist, pick yourself up, wince a bit from the pain and continue to play the game. The victory will soon make the pain inconsequential. God's strength is made perfect through our weaknesses.


The goal keeper Kasper Schmeichel was outstanding in goal- having kept 15 clean sheets so far this season. No Premier League keeper has more. Wes Morgan has made the third most blocks in the EPL this season. Robert Huth with 258 clearances, made the fourth-most clearances so far this season in the EPL. Ngolo Kante made more tackles (158) and interceptions (148) than any Premiership player this season. As Gary Lineker wrote: ‘If planet Earth was ever under threat from an asteroid, I'm pretty sure that Kante would intercept it.’ Even Sir Alex Ferguson picked Kante as the best player this season. For each match he played, Okazaki always ran like a terrier after a bone. He ran himself aground each match.

Leicester city players even carried their training kits on vacation. For them, it was all about hard work. The man who works hard will eventually be lucky. The man who doesn't will probably be lucky.

We need to apply the lessons learnt from Leicester City Football Club- the team whose initial ambition was to avoid relegation but has now won the title.

Can I be your Coach Ranieri?

Bola Adeyinka

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