Lionel Messi spoke for the great and the good of world soccer, not to mention millions of grassroots fans, when he acclaimed Leicester City’s extraordinary Premier League triumph by tweeting: “The reason why we all love football. Congratulations”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino echoed the most common and apt description of the “beautiful story” as a “fairytale” after the 5,000-1 outsiders, who performed a miraculous escape from relegation last season, were crowned champions on Monday.
Leicester’s first top-flight title was secured after their only remaining challengers Tottenham Hotspur were held to a 2-2 draw at Chelsea when needing to win to keep the race alive.
Real Madrid’s former Spurs player Gareth Bale, whose side are battling with Messi’s Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for the Spanish title, took a similar view.
Ex-Leicester and England striker Gary Lineker said: “Leicester City have won the Premier League. The biggest sporting shock of my lifetime, and it’s only my team.”
TV presenter Lineker had promised to front BBC’s Match of the Day in his underpants if his old club won it but few people thought he would ever have to go through with it, even when they opened a seven-point lead with two months remaining.
“All season long people kept saying they’ll lose the next one, lose the next one but they kept winning and churning out results,” said Chelsea skipper John Terry after the outgoing champions’ fightback from 2-0 down ended Spurs’ hopes.
“To do what they’ve done this year has been unbelievable and given hope to the smaller teams.”