Ask any Sportpesa betting enthusiast and they will tell you that an odd of 5000/1 is not mathematically inviting. It is one of the least attractive stakes. It isn’t the number bookies would have set if they were truly commenting on Leicester’s chances of winning a tiresome heart-wrenching 38-game League. Known for its aggressive physicality, an odd of 5000 is a “joke” odd and you are not going to see such a thing on mCheza, BetIn, Betway, Sportpesa and or all the other mushroom bookies in the country.
But then in came the ultra cool tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri. A journeyman whose résumé was subject of jeers. Jose Mourinho derided him. A man who had never won a league title despite having taken the helms at more prestigious teams like Juventus, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Monaco.
The Italian took up a struggling outfit that had just dispensed with Nigel Pearson. It was a team in tatters that had barely survived the 2014/15 relegation battle. A team made up of rejects like PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez. Their topscorer Jamie Vardy is storied but not in an illustrious way. He’d never made for an ominous striker in any other team before.
On Monday, 2nd of May, in the 83rd minute of Chelsea’s clash with bitter London rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs, immediate former PFA Player of the Year, who’s been out of touch all season, Eden Hazard curled in a blast that tied the game at 2-2. There was a surge of glee in the Stamford Bridge stands and to all followers of English football as the that tie, if maintained until fulltime, would clinch the title for Leicester. Even many who don’t normally support Leicester couldn’t help but be caught up in the story.
Leicester City’s glory is a reminder of why elitism in sport should be challenged. The salient fact about challenges to the game’s elite, be it in football or any other sport, is that they look virtually impossible, but occasionally they happen. Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers, the invincible Arsenal of 2003/04, Deportivo la Coruna in 1999/00 and Jubentus’s rise from Calciopoli implications, relegation to a still active 5-year run on top of Serie A are the stuff of adrenaline. The stories that inspire awe. And that is what makes trying to rise above expectations to be so special.
As we revel in Leicester’s script glory, let’s be inspired by their courage and ability to withstand pressure from the established elite.