English Premiership

World's press flock to cover Leicester fairytale

2016-04-28 08:57
Jamie Vardy (TEAMtalk)

London - A sweep of the press room before Leicester City's recent victory over Swansea City confirmed the extent to which their pursuit of Premier League glory has captivated global audiences.

Journalists from as far afield as Finland, Turkey, South Korea and Australia mingled in the queue for a pre-match meal, while a 10-strong Japanese contingent sat around a table discussing how Shinji Okazaki would fare in the absence of his suspended strike partner Jamie Vardy.

The team that narrowly avoided relegation last season are now just three points from the league title and their Cinderella story has won them admirers in the most unlikely locations.

"Last season, no-one really wrote about Leicester in the US and no-one really talked about them," says Joe Prince-Wright, the lead soccer writer for American broadcasting giant NBC.

"This season it's been incredible -- people like (New England Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady and NFL players have been sending them messages.

"All of a sudden there's this clamour to latch onto the underdog story. The American public love an underdog story.

"Most people haven't got a team (to support) yet, but we get pictures from people on a tractor in some small town in the middle of the US and they've got a Leicester shirt or a Leicester scarf and they're following the Foxes."

One tellingly titled recent video on the NBC Sports website was called: "What You Need To Know To Jump On The Leicester City Bandwagon".

ESPN, meanwhile, has sent its acclaimed sportswriter Wright Thompson to Leicester for the season's final weeks to capture the Foxes' story.

"I'm here for the duration!" he told AFP during the 4-0 victory over Swansea last Sunday.

'SOMETHING AMAZING'

A modest club from a humdrum city in England's east Midlands, Leicester's previous highest finish was a runner-up spot in 1929 and in times past the only newspaper they could rely upon for regular coverage was local daily the Leicester Mercury.

This season's fairytale campaign has seen them featured in such bastions of American journalism as the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and the Wall Street Journal.

As Peter Soulsby, Leicester's mayor, told the Daily Telegraph earlier this month: "A provincial English city doesn't get on the front of the WSJ unless it's doing something amazing."

The multinational make-up of the King Power Stadium press pack reflects the league of nations that is the Leicester squad, which includes players from 14 different countries (not including those out on loan).

Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, whose employers, King Power, are Thai, has a Danish goalkeeper (Kasper Schmeichel), a Jamaica international as captain (Wes Morgan) and an Argentine centre-forward (Leonardo Ulloa), while Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez on Sunday became the first African to be named England's Player of the Year.

According to a report compiled earlier in the season by Sky Sports, it is the second most diverse squad in the Premier League behind Watford's.

While Leicester's quest for glory has seen journalists from around the world flock to the party, the press room's Japanese representatives have been there all along due to the club's acquisition of Japan international Okazaki from German side Mainz last July.

Masatoshi Mori from Japanese sports daily Hochi Shimbun arrived even earlier, attending his first press conference last season when news of the club's interest in Okazaki first emerged.

"It was a relaxed atmosphere," he told AFP. "There was only the guy from the local paper, the BBC and including me, probably four or five journalists. Now, there are hundreds!"

The Leicester story is not quite a triumph of racial harmony. Three young players were sacked after filming a racist sex tape during an end-of-season tour of Thailand and Vardy was obliged to apologise after being caught on camera racially taunting an Asian man in a casino.

But in terms of sporting interest, it is a tale that has touched almost every corner of the world.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Burnley v Stoke City, Turf Moor 21:45
Crystal Palace v Watford, Selhurst Park 22:00
Huddersfield Town v Chelsea, The John Smith's Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Swansea City v Manchester City, Liberty Stadium 21:45
Newcastle United v Everton, St. James' Park 21:45
Southampton v Leicester City, St. Mary's Stadium 21:45
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion, Anfield 22:00
West Ham United v Arsenal, London Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth, Old Trafford 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Saturday, 16 December 2017
Leicester City v Crystal Palace, King Power Stadium 14:30
Stoke City v West Ham United, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
Arsenal v Newcastle United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Chelsea v Southampton, Stamford Bridge 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Burnley, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Watford v Huddersfield Town, Vicarage Road Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur, Etihad Stadium 19:30
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.