Gary Lineker tweeted in January 2020: “Football is wonderfully cyclical. It would be boring otherwise. The bad times make the good times so much better.
Few would be better placed to make that observation than Leicester’s favorite son. The man who presented Match of the Day in his boxers after the Foxes won the Premier League’s most unlikely title has seen more ups and downs in the past decade than those boxers.
The last 10 years have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Leicester supporters. There was that iconic league victory, an FA Cup triumph, a heartbreak in the play-off, near misses up top – and down – as well as scandals and tragedies off the pitch.
With Dean Smith’s side facing relegation tomorrow, this decade of drama finally seems to be coming to a dismal end.
Here, Mail Sport remembers everything that happened…
Gary Lineker presented the game of the day in boxer shorts after Leicester won the Premier League
Dean Smith’s side are now set to be relegated after a decade of historic Premier League moments
The Foxes need to beat West Ham on the final day and hope Everton fail to secure victory over Bournemouth
2012-13 – Knockaert’s agony as Watford grab a missed penalty
Leicester lose in the Championship play-off after one of the most dramatic finishes to a game in history.
Anthony Knockaert has the chance to send Nigel Pearson’s side to Wembley in stoppage time, but Watford keeper Manuel Almunia saves his kick and the Hornets race down the other end to score the winner.
Jamie Vardy watches from the bench and fellow countryman Harry Kane has to settle for a cameo after Chris Wood and David Nugent were favored up front!
2013-14 – Foxes takeover triggered by Vardy and £450,000 Mahrez
Pearson puts their play-off grief behind them as Leicester storm to the league title, becoming the third team to break the 100-point barrier in the process.
A 21-game unbeaten run from December is proving decisive, with January’s addition Riyad Mahrez, snatched from Ligue 2 club Le Havre for £450,000, having an encouraging start.
Vardy, who played non-league football just three years earlier, is named the club’s player of the season after his 16 goals.
Leicester won the Championship thanks to the performances of Riyad Mahrez (left) and Jamie Vardy (middle)
They bounced back from play-off heartbreak the year before which saw Anthony Knockaert miss a vital penalty
2014-15 – Pearson loses plot, then finds great escape
Leicester add footballing royalty in the form of Esteban Cambiasso and start the season well by beating Manchester United 5-3.
But everything goes downhill quickly and they look doomed, down with 19 points after 29 games. Worse still, boss Pearson appears to be losing his mind, calling a reporter an ostrich, attacking Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur during a game and telling a fan to “f*** off and die”.
But the Foxes somehow manage to pull off a great escape, winning seven of their last nine games.
Nigel Pearson helped steer Foxes to Premier League survival despite plot loss
2015-16 – Ranieri and his miracle men shock the world
Pearson left the club suddenly after his son James was embroiled in a sex tape and racism scandal during pre-season.
Fans are fuming when Claudio Ranieri, 64, is named as his replacement, having been sacked by Greece after losing at home to the Faroe Islands. The rest is history.
The most unexpected title triumph in living memory follows, with the 5,000-1 miracle men propelled to the Premier League by Vardy’s 24 goals.
Ranieri’s side are serenaded by Andrea Bocelli on the day they lift Leicester’s first top flight trophy in their 132-year history.
Claudio Ranieri (middle) went on to side with the most iconic Premier League title win of all time
Jamie Vardy scored 24 goals as the team rewrote the history books to win their first and only title
Thousands of people lined the streets of Leicester for the club’s title celebrations
2016-17 – Arrivederci Claudio because everything ends in tears
Winning the Premier League doesn’t buy Ranieri enough goodwill to see the next season. He was sacked in February with the Foxes in 17th, amid rumors of a fallout with the players he had inspired to the title.
“For me there were some strange decisions in 16-17: Brexit, Trump, Ranieri,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
Craig Shakespeare leads Leicester into the last eight of the Champions League, where they narrowly lose to Atletico Madrid. They recover 12th in the league but it is still the worst Premier League title defense in history.
2017-18 – Shakespeare’s last act, in Puel
Portugal star Adrien Silva arrives from Sporting Lisbon for £22m on deadline day but Leicester try to register him 14 seconds too late and he is forced to wait four months for his debut.
Shakespeare only lasted two more months in charge before being replaced by Claude Puel, who secured a ninth-place finish but frustrated fans with his austere playing style.
Claude Puel helped the Foxes finish ninth in the Premie League but his style of play left fans frustrated
2018-19 – Vichai dies in a helicopter crash
Tragedy strikes in October as Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner who made fans’ dreams come true, dies in a helicopter crash outside King Power Stadium.
The players are in shock – goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel having run to hell to try to save his distressed friend – but they bravely rally.
Vichai’s son, Aiyawatt, takes over the reins of the club. He fired Puel in February and replaced him with Brendan Rodgers, sparking a comeback.
Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha tragically died in an above-ground helicopter crash
Foxes players paid tribute to the man who made the club’s dreams come true at his funeral
2019-20 – Covid crisis and Wagatha woes
Rodgers’ Leicester are going from strength to strength despite the £80million sale of Harry Maguire and sit second in the table in December. A place in the top four seems a certainty.
But after the Covid-enforced interval, they only win two of nine games and miss out on Champions League qualification. Off the pitch, Vardy’s partner Rebekah is accused by Coleen Rooney of leaking stories about her to a newspaper, leading to the ‘Wagatha Christie’ court case.
2020-21 – Wembley wonderkids win inaugural FA Cup
Leicester come away in impressive fashion and are still third in the table with two games to go. But they lose both and are propelled into the top four by Chelsea. Sound familiar?
Those blues don’t last long, as they have one on the Blues at Wembley, winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history thanks to Youri Tielemans’ stunning goal. Aiyawatt celebrates with the players on the pitch as they dedicate the trophy to Vichai.
The club then failed to qualify for the Champions League but won their first FA Cup
Brendan Rodgers had turned the tables on the team as they looked to be competitive at the top of the table again
2021-22 – Big-money flops mount pressure on Rodgers…
Rodgers spends over £60m on Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare and Jannik Vestergaard but all three come up short. The magic touch that Leicester once had in the market seems long gone.
Another European run – this time to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League – adds shine to an otherwise indifferent season but ends in defeat at Rome.
2022-23 – Critical time in a desperate fight for survival
After a summer of transfer fallow, Leicester have picked up just one point from their first seven games. Their season never really recovered and Rodgers was sacked in April, with the club looking nervously over his shoulder.
The Foxes enter the final weekend of the campaign needing a miracle to survive. Will they get it? Stranger things have happened in these regions over the past decade. But remember that football is wonderfully cyclical.