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Leicester’s celebration with owner was the epitome of what ESL failed to destroy

Saturday May 15 2021 will forever be remembered as the day we got our football back.

It seems like a cliché to claim that we didn’t realise just how much we missed it until it returned.

But the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ could not have been more apt when trying to describe an FA Cup final like no other between Chelsea and Leicester.

The thousands of fans streaming down Wembley Way; the spine-tingling roar following an particularly poignant ‘Abide With Me’; the split second of silence after the ball left Youri Tielemans’ foot followed by the hair-raising eruption of noise; a sea of blue with fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and grandparents embracing in tears at full-time.

The return of supporters for the FA Cup final was hugely poignant

These are the special moments we had taken for granted until they were abruptly snatched away from us without warning early last year.

But the good times look like they’re on the way back, and even the most ardent Chelsea fan would be unable to argue that Saturday was one of the most heartwarming matches in living memory.

And just when it looked like the day couldn’t become any more uplifting, there was one more moment to treasure: the sight of Foxes chairman Top Srivaddhanaprabha trotting onto the pitch accompanied by Kasper Schmeichel to join in the celebrations.

This is a man who completely defies the norm when it comes to club ownership.

A man who seems genuinely just as excited about success on the pitch as he does about lining his back pocket.

A man who has had to deal with unthinkable personal tragedy to pick the club up after the horrific death of his father.

There were emotional scenes when Top Srivaddhanaprabha joined in the celebrations
There were emotional scenes when Top Srivaddhanaprabha joined in the celebrations

And as he tearfully hugged his players and manager Brendan Rodgers, you couldn’t help but be struck by the complete contrast between his emotions and that of other club owners and CEOs around the country.

Could you imagine the Glazers doing something similar? Stan Kroenke? John Henry? Would they even know what the FA Cup is?

It is ironic that Leicester’s latest glory came just hours after Tottenham fans had been protesting against the ownership of Daniel Levy and ENIC a few miles down the road in north London.

Spurs are historically a bigger, richer, and more famous name around the world than Leicester ever have been.

Yet the differences between the two in terms of their current directions and the bond between the club and spectators could not be any more different.

Earlier in the day Tottenham had protested against their owner
Earlier in the day Tottenham had protested against their owner

There is also no irony lost in the fact that this most unforgettable of occasions is exactly the sort of thing the ‘dirty dozen’ involved in the European Super League were trying to destroy.

“Young people aren’t interested in football”, mastermind Florentino Perez feebly argued. “Because there are a lot of low-quality games, and they have other entertainment platforms.”

Try telling that to the millions around the world captivated by Saturday’s encounter.

The reality, Mr Perez, is that this is exactly what the majority want to see.

Football is not always about the most glamorous sides and the very best players. And even if on a technical level the final was not the most skillful or easy-on-the-eye to watch, the story of the plucky underdog once again defying the odds is one which will resonate with most far more than anything the Super League could ever hope to produce.

Saturday was a day for both Leicester and football fans around the country to celebrate
Saturday was a day for both Leicester and football fans around the country to celebrate

Now the only hope is that we will see more owners such as Srivaddhanaprabha.

It is a naive hope, perhaps, but you certainly get the feeling that the tide of change is coming.

That is for another day, however.

For now, let us bask in the glory of crowds, drama, and the storylines that only football can produce.

And let’s never take it for granted again.




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