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Commentary: Hollywood ending for Leicester City

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Giovanna Rinaldo, Staff Writer

Giovanna Z. Rinaldo, Staff Writer

I wracked my brain for comparison except there is none. All the years I ever spent watching soccer, and all the years I spent building my writing skills, I still can’t articulate what the sport’s fans all over the world, myself included, have witnessed.

What the modest English soccer team Leicester City accomplished Monday is unheard of, incomparable, and still unbelievable. It will go down in history as the greatest upset in the sporting world.

The underdogs beat odds of 5,000-1 and became Premier League champions for the first time in its 132-year history, two games in advance and seven points ahead of Tottenham.

Two years ago, they did not even play in the first division of English soccer, where the country’s 20 best ranked teams are. Last year, they were battling relegation.

In November 2014, their Italian coach Claudio Ranieri was being fired from the Greece national team after a defeat to the Faroe Islands.

In 2012, their top scorer and unlikely hero Jamie Vardy was playing at the fifth division, where the sport level is roughly amateur.

Even before that, he played in the seventh division for 30 pounds a week while working 12-hour shifts in a factory.

There, at one point, Vardy had to play wearing an ankle tracker after being involved in a bar fight.

He sometimes needed to be subbed off during half time to get home in time for his 6 p.m. curfew. His story is a movie by itself.

He and French-Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez were responsible for incredible 60 of Leicester’s 77 league points.

The team managed to build themselves up from anonymity to end the London-Manchester monopoly of the English league title. They left giants Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal to watch in awe as their chances went from a joke to improbable, and from unlikely to possible and real through the 2015-16 season.

In an attempt to explain the achievement to those unfamiliar with it, BBC Sports listed other events with 5,000-1 odds of happening to draw a parallel. They included Elvis Presley being found alive and the Loch Ness monster being proven to exist.

ESPN also added things like Kim Kardashian becoming the U.S. president in 2020 and Barack Obama playing cricket for England.

A comparison in American sports is hard to find. The Philadelphia 76ers, one of the worst teams in the NBA, had odds of 350-1 to win the championship this season. In football, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the longest odds of winning the Super Bowl last season, at 300-1. Currently, the Atlanta Braves face the longest odds of winning the World Series, at 500-1. All of those seem like sure things compared to Leicester City’s 5,000-1 odds.

Perhaps Leicester experienced the miracle because they did not question whether it was really possible, but rather how. They did not focus on what was lacking, did not look at all the big names they did not have or at what their budget could not afford.

Ordinary athletes sweat-branded soccer fields across England, with no revolutionary tactics or style behind. The fight was won through hunger and passion. Fearlessly, Leicester prevailed consistently through 38 games in one of the globe’s most competitive soccer leagues.

With the world now bowing down at their resilience, Leicester City’s fairy tale is living proof that the impossible is only something that has never been done. Yet.

Giovanna Z. Rinaldo, a junior journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at giovanna.zelonirinaldo@laverne.edu.

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