A perfect match!

Monday, May 17th, 2021 00:00 |
Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers (centre) is thrown into the air by his players on the pitch after the English FA Cup final football match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north west London on May 15, 2021. Photo/AFP

London, Sunday

Brendan Rodgers basked in the glory of his status as the first Leicester City manager to win the FA Cup, thrown high in the air by his celebrating players before an emotional embrace with chairman Aiyawatt ‘Khun Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha.

It was a moving moment. The son of the former owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Khun Top had become chairman after his father died in a helicopter crash at King Power Stadium in October 2018.

Here, he joined Rodgers before celebrating with Leicester’s players, lifting the FA Cup they had won for the first time after beating Chelsea at Wembley.

This was a scene of unity between manager, players, owner and celebrating Foxes fans who were among 21,000 inside Wembley as part of the biggest domestic sporting crowd since football resumed last June.

Premier League winners in 2016, fifth last season, in the top four with two games left this time around, and now FA Cup winners: Leicester’s success confirms they deserve to be ranked among England’s leading six clubs - despite what those who pursued the ill-fated European Super League might think.

The manner in which they are run and managed means they have every chance of staying there.

The lengthy conversation between Khun Top and Rodgers will have been laced heavily with mutual gratitude.

The partnership has enabled the manager to embellish an impressive CV with his first trophy in England.

Here, at least, Rodgers had been something of a nearly man. His Liverpool side stumbled with the Premier League finishing line in sight in 2014 then suffered bitter FA Cup semi-final disappointment against heavy underdogs Aston Villa in April 2015. His Anfield reign, which had held so much promise, ran out of steam.

Rodgers resurfaced at Celtic after he was sacked by Liverpool and was an unqualified success, winning all seven domestic trophies available to him in two and a half years at Parkhead, breaking a 100-year-old British record with a 69-game unbeaten run in the process.

There was some surprise in Scotland when Rodgers left for Leicester in February 2019, the boyhood Celtic fan lured away by the ambition of potential success back in the Premier League.

He almost took Leicester into the Champions League in his first full season, only to miss out on the final day with a home defeat by Manchester United.

But fifth place was, in reality, an impressive return spoiled by a late slump in form.

The scenes at Wembley, and the sheer joy on his face as he took his place in Leicester’s history, vindicated any risk in Rodgers’ decision to leave a club where he was regarded as a hero - at least until the day he departed.  - BBC

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