first_imgVardys 22 goals, including a Premier League record Vardys 22 goals, including a Premier League record scoring run of 11 consecutive games, have fueled the title charge. Relegation was forecast for this team, not embarrassing the gilded elite. Even more astonishingly, the title was won with two games to spare, leaving the mighty Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City trailing in their wake. Vichai Raksriaksorn, who also owns Thai duty free giant King Power, never expected to be posing with his own title winners when he bought Leicester in 2010 in a deal that valued the club at 39 million pounds (now about USD 57 million). The Foxes had only just climbed out of the third tier back then, and took until 2014 to end their 10-year exile from the Premier League, where they now tower over every other team in England. Before Leicester, the last first-time champion of England was another modest east Midlands team, Nottingham Forest, back in 1978. Forest followed that pre-Premier League era triumph by winning the European Cup not once, but twice. The magnitude of Leicesters feat will be measured by what happens next. “We made a lot of dreams come true,” Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater said. “Were not going to drop off. Were going to push on.” However, Leicester will have to keep stars like Vardy and winger Riyad Mahrez from the grasps of wealthier clubs. “We are not a team who produces players to be developed later by other teams,” said the owners son, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha. “All players want to stay and keep on fighting together to see how far they can go. So selling players is not on our agenda.” Manager Claudio Ranieri has cautioned against expecting Leicester to retain its title. “I think no,” Ranieri said when asked about defending the trophy. “But we want to continue to build.” Ranieris task when he was hired as manager last year was just keeping Leicester in the top flight. Now the 64-year-old Italian has his first-ever major title. “The emotion was at the maximum level,” Ranieri, who was fired from his last job with Greece in 2014, said before training. “It means the job is good. I am very, very happy now because maybe if I won this title at the beginning of my career maybe I would forget. Now I am an old man I can feel it much better.” So too can lifelong fans like 51-year-old Sharanjit Singh, who has endured decades of heartache following a team that flitted between leagues, constantly battling relegation or seeking promotion. “It doesnt matter if we do nothing like this again,” Singh said at Leicester Market, which was festooned with Leicester banners. The celebration will continue for weeks. Before the victory parade, Leicester has to receive the trophy on Saturday after the penultimate match of its season against Everton. AP AH AHadvertisementlast_img

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