Many sporting moments have made millions stop and say “whoa.” It might not have been the Super Bowl, the World Cup Final or the Olympic 100 meter final, but the 61st minute of the Manchester City-Leicester City match made millions around the world gasp.
That was the exact scenario I experienced at the weekend. As Robert Huth’s header floated over the keeper and into the net, the euphoria overtook everyone in the away section. The lower tier was a sea of bodies and celebratory madness. It was an outpouring of disbelief and emotion that signalled the true belief that the impossible was on.
Turning up at the Etihad was an occasion like no other. After over 150 Leicester City away games over the last seven years, this one felt different. The eyes of the country (a peak of 1.33 million on UK broadcaster BT Sport) and the world were on this game. Grant Wahl’s Twitter replies were full of EPL die-hards mentioning their commitment at an early Saturday wake up call for the match.
This weekend last year, Leicester lost to Crystal Palace. The next day the fans were plunged into confusion as Nigel Pearson was reportedly sacked according to Sky Sports News. Within two hours a statement clarified his position as manager. The rest is history.
Roll forward 365 days and here we were, the match to set the road map for the next 14 weeks. There was an air of glorious anticipation, voices were loud and Huth’s opener only helped to quiet the crowd. This was as strong a first half performance as I’ve ever seen. Solid in defense and rapid on the counter attack. If Leicester ever wanted to play a team, Manchester City seemed ideal. There was, however, an air of edginess in the stands, that much pressure would find cracks in the end, surely?
It didn’t matter.
As Leicester broke with Kante and Mahrez found himself in space, the throngs shouted “go on” (or “goo-won in our local dialect”) in unison. I can still remember that flash across my mind as I mentally urged Mahrez to pass it to the open Vardy. As quickly as I thought, the ball was in the back of the net. This was unbelievable; 48 minutes into the game and 2-0 up at Manchester City.
Huth’s looping header to make it three seemed to take ages to go in, an incredible moment when time seemed to stand still. As the net rippled, the outpouring of emotion came. Fans were strewn everywhere. It was an incredible moment. After the celebrations had died down, I looked to my right and saw the Manchester City fans stood silent… stunned. They didn’t expect anything like this. After a couple of minutes, the chant “we’re Leicester City, we’re top of the league” was in full voice, leading to some home fans to applaud us… applaud the performance and the amazing event they were witnessing.
At full time, the players received the ovation they fully deserved. As fans filed out of the stadium I stood and reflected on what I’d seen. The eyes of so many were on this game and we delivered a performance, a statement of such emphatic proportions the betting companies made us favourites for the title until Arsenal won at Bournemouth the next day. We’ve come so far in such a short space of time.
Everyone, myself included, finally started to think the title was possible. Certainly dreams of the UEFA Champions League theme at the King Power Stadium next season are getting more and more realistic. To compete in the pinnacle of European club soccer would be something I would never have anticipated in my wildest dreams. Yet this might not even be on my radar because on the final day of the season, Sunday May 15th, something not seen in the 132-year history of this club might just finally be fulfilled.
There’s a long way to go yet, but on Saturday’s performance as Peter Drury said on commentary, “why shouldn’t they be champions?”
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Where to find Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria on US TV
- Premier League’s most underrated XI in the 2021/22 season
- Marseille secure Champions League place as Bordeaux go down
- RB Leipzig win first German Cup trophy
- Ten-man RB Leipzig win German Cup final on penalties
- La Rochelle boost Top 14 play-off hopes ahead of Euro final
- Fiorentina beat Juve to reach Conference League, Atalanta out of Europe
- ‘Very happy’ Mbappe snubs Real Madrid to stay at PSG
- Lyon beat Barca to claim eighth Women’s Champions League
- Which countries are FIFA World Cup rivals?