Leiceister City And The Will to Win | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Leiceister City And The Will to Win

Ayo-Oyoze-Baje (1)
Posted: May 12, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ayo Oyoze Baje
The greater the obstacles, We overcome, In achieving our dreams, The greater the glory.
-John Harold Johnson
It has thrown our soccer-crazy world into global frenzy; shattered long-held myths and made mince- meat of book maker’s predictions. Some call it a fairy tale, while others, like yours truly would dub this uncommon football feat the ‘fable of the Foxes’. Of course, we are talking of no other victory than that of the 132-year-old Leiceister City Football Club of England, which at 5000 to 1 odds against the regular top-four clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, rose stoutly to clinch the coveted Premiership Title for the 2015-2016 season. Thus, it has reinforced Napoleon Bonaparte’s wise counsel that, ‘the word impossible can be found only in the dictionary of fools’. Indeed, we are not telling tales from any fool’s paradise. This is stark reality.
For once, media attention was drawn away from the unrelenting war on terror and the upcoming Presidential elections in the United States. Even here in Nigeria, the recurring ugly decimal of unending fuel crisis, escalating food prices, the intractable power outage, resurgence of militancy in the Niger-Delta region and issues relating to our anti-corruption czar, the globe-trotting president all took the back seat. Instead, it was riveted on the man of the moment, Claudio Ranieri, the 64-year-old Italian-born coach, who was appointed Leiceister’s helmsman on July 13,2015.On the first trial the team escaped relegation battle by a hair’s breadth. That was the previous season, only to turn the soccer tide swelling in his team’s favour on May 2, 2016! That span of 294 days made another history, as the shortest by any EPL coach to take over a team and guide it all the way to the top. Claudio must still be reeling in cloud nine.
But he is not alone. The 24-year-old Levi Taylor is another. As a die-hard fan of Leiceister City, he smelt victory when others looked the other way. With three audacious bets of his favourite team winning the trophy, placing in the top-four and finishing amongst the top six, he is currently smiling to the bank with 33,000 pounds! ”It’s fantastic, this has changed our lives”, he exclaimed .With that, he has set up himself and his girlfriend, Adele in a new house, finished the payment on his car and booked a holiday in Greece. Wow!
As expected, encomiums keep pouring on Ranieri from places far and near. Not left out is his 96-year –old mother, Renata who confessed she started crying once the victory became a reality. Beyond describing the players as ‘true professionals’ she now calls her beloved son the ‘King of England’. Do not begrudge her. Even, the once-upon-a-time Special One, Jose Mourhino congratulated ‘the coach, the fans, the owner and the entire team’. On his part, the penny-pinching Arsenal boss, Wenger whose team, many pundits swore would have a field day this concluded season, confessed that he had never witnessed a victory as profound as that of Leiceister City.
And talking about the team, there is more than meets the eye about the bunch of once lowly-rated players, such as Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater and ace keeper, Kasper Schmeichel. Their combined signing fees cannot be compared to that of individual stars such as Mesut Ozil, Wayne Rooney, Alexis Sanchez, or a Yahaya Toure. So, what was the magic wand that inspired them to re-write soccer’s history books? More significantly, what lasting lessons should we all glean from their exemplary exploits? That is the billion- dollar (sorry, pound) question.
The answer, we dare say lies within the tenets of unshakable self-belief, a clear vision of what we want and the relentless pursuit of our goals with courage, character, commitment and of course consistency. As Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, consistency is the unfailing key to success, in any venture. There is never any gain without pain, as omelets are made by breaking eggs. As now patently evident, Ranieri certainly had absolute confidence in the ability of his team to pull off this feat. Said he: “From the beginning, I felt something special, their professionalism was fantastic.” Indeed, with only three games lost in an entire season, their sheer determination conquered all the odds. And that again, re-echoes Sam Walton’s words of wisdom, that in life, “individuals don’t win but teams do.”
That brings us to the willingness to pursue one’s dream, no matter how daunting the obstacles may seem. That rare, ‘can-do-it’ spirit; to keep pushing, with focus on the finishing line instead of being distracted by the jeers and cheers of the onlookers always pays off at the end. For instance, Abraham Lincoln failed 10 times in politics before claiming America’s presidency. According to Charles Albert Poissant, the author of How to think like a millionaire, an engineer simply called Mr. Head tried 47 times before he could make the first metal ski. Similarly, Dr. Ian Wilmot made 277 attempts before he succeeded with the first cloned mammal-a sheep called Dolly. What if they had given up, just before the last attempt? So good also that Raneiri kept faith, despite other league titles eluding him in his previous attempts.
Interestingly, Leiceister City’s run-away success teaches us never to underrate anybody or group. Besides, now we know that money is not the only determining factor for success. As Steve Marriott, an acclaimed author reiterates, success is about creating value.
And soccer is a replica of the affairs of life, in providing value. Beyond its veritable platform for the players’ display of their soccer artistry via sublime dribbling skills, deft passes, mesmerizing swerves to scoring the vital goals, it teaches us team work, obedience to rules and to expect the unexpected, as there is always the unknown factor –X, in the affairs of man. You can be whatever you wish to be, because as the Peak Milk pay-off message says-It’s in you!