Ever since the Premier League came into existence, acceptance has been the norm for many fans.
First, we accepted the rising dominance of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. Then we accepted the rise of the top four and then the top six when that came along. We also accept the rising transfer fees and wages that now dominate the game. It’s the way things are and we’ve grown accustomed to it.
The top six are what they are; breaking into that select group is extremely difficult. Some clubs have more money than others and better players. It is those who are often found at the top of the pile breaking up the monopoly, flipping over the board and changing the status quo is unlikely to ever happen.
Daring to dream is not a crime
Yet, in 2015-16, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Leicester City proved that is could be done. They showed us that lying down and accepting how things are is not how it should be. The Thai billionaire and his Foxes taught all Premier League fans that daring to dream is not a crime. He taught us that there is no point in the so-called beautiful game if we don’t dare to dream big. Doing so is not the sole property of the football elite.
We sniggered behind our hands when the Leicester chairman declared his intention to see them in the top four within three years. Who did this guy think he was? It simply doesn’t work that way. England’s top flight would make a mockery of ideas like that.
That proved to be the Premier League’s own Susan Boyle moment. Those of us who laughed weren’t doing so when three years later they broke through that glass ceiling and kept rising all the way to the top. Everest had a Leicester City flag upon it.
Only he and his jubilant Leicester family were laughing. The rest of us were left watching and admiring. Everyone was a Leicester City fan on that day. Even their most bitter rivals were willing to concede a wry smile. That’s the way it is when the underdog comes out on top. The Foxes had done what the rest of the league daren’t dream about. Not only that, they had done it in style, winning the league by ten points and putting the ‘big’ teams to the sword on one more occasion.
Expectations have been fundamentally changed forever
Their success is English football’s greatest, and most unlikely, success story. In sporting miracles, it’s up there with the best of them. It served as an inspiration to the rest of the league. No longer do clubs of Leicester’s size believe they cannot do it. Expectations have been fundamentally changed forever. Even the bookmakers learned a valuable lesson that year.
Hopes and dreams are what make up football’s core and without them it is nothing. Every fan travelling to a game is filled with it. Hope their side will do well; hope they’ll see something special. Its part of the fabric of the game; it’s what makes us all love it.
For many a year, the hope, the daring to dream had been taken away. Monotony and acceptance had become the norm. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha changed all that. He dared to hope, to dream and in the end, was rewarded for both.
As the tributes pour in it has become clear that Leicester’s owner was a great man away from the football community too. His charitable donations and work to help the city of Leicester grow and develop dwarf what he did with the club. The 61-year-old was a man who loved to give to others.
English football has lost a great man; one who taught us all that even the biggest dreams can come true if you just have a little hope.