As the football season comes to an end, Leicester City FC, a football club from small town in England has broken all expectations and won the English Premier League.
Sports have a unique ability to bring people together, build alliances and experience the joy of being a part of something bigger than their individual achievements. And once in a while, teams, while doing all of the above, end up creating history in some of the most astonishing and novel ways. One of such defining moments took place when the winners of the Barclays Premier League, the football league in England, were announced. Leicester City Football Club, hailing from the small city of Leicester from the Eastern Midland region of England won one of the most revered and followed football league in the world.
But what makes this journey for Leicester City FC, fondly called The Foxes, truly spectacular is that this is their first ever Premier league win in a period spanning more than a century. After almost a 130 year dry spell, a highly motivated team under a leader with strategic vision have created history by winning the coveted Premier League. Claudio Ranieri, an Italian football manager managed to do so with a team whose collective price tag was £22m, outshining rivals with football stars that cost 10 times the amount. Starting the campaign with a 5000:1 odd to win the title, the Foxes led by the Italian manager went from game to game with an attitude of winning. This is reflected by the fact that they lost just 3 matches in their entire campaigns. "For non-football fans, this scenario is about as likely as Donald Trump being made president. Of Iceland." sums up Tim Jonze for the Guardian. But like any other great managerial story this began with its own set of hiccups. The football club appointed Claudio Ranieri after having to sack the previous manager amidst controversies. With a small budget to spend and mediocre looking team, it was up to the manager to put up a good performance, at the least. The Guardian at the beginning of the season in 2015 predicted a 19th position finish for the club. But everything that has happened after that has been nothing short of a miracle. "Something extraordinary is happening in the world of football. Something that defies logic. Something truly magical. Something that makes me well up with emotion because this something is happening to my team. The team I have supported since I was the size of a multipack of crisps." wrote Gary Linker an Ex- Leicester City Football club player and world famous commentator.
Much to surprise of everybody, Claudio Ranieri was successful in transforming each and every member of the team into a star performer. But it wasn't just the result of sheer managerial brilliance. Leicester City FC performed well as a team, something we find quite often in businesses. A great leader helps the team reach its goal by not just bringing in his experience of doing things but also by allowing team members to perform in a role that suits them the best. This involves balancing out the tendency to play safe and impulse to experiment. Having never won anything notable in England before in his 30 year old managerial career, Ranieri was able to coach and mentor individuals to reach their top potential, with less heard of players like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez becoming star players of the entire season. Jamie Vardy, the lead scorer for the team, in a period of four years went from playing for a non-league team to winning the Premier League title. But beyond individual performances, it was the cohesion and spirit with which the eleven players played that made all the difference. By acting as well- oiled machine, The Foxes were able to defeat most of top premier league teams to win the league. Which, for most of the fans, still seems to feel like a dream.