1. Leicester City defies the odds, wins unprecedented Premier League title

Thursday December 29th, 2016

It was the best sports story of 2016—and perhaps of the 21st century so far. Lightly regarded Leicester City, which had required a near-miracle to avoid relegation from the Premier League in the previous season, was a 5,000-to-1 shot to win the league in 2015-16. Upsets happen all the time in the Premier League when it comes to single games, but the title-winners in the Premier League era over 38 games have always been the wealthiest clubs. A championship by a team as humble as Leicester seemed unconscionable.

Yet somehow it happened. With a mix of talent, chemistry and sound counter-attacking strategy, Leicester made a run for the ages. Jamie Vardy, who had been playing in semipro leagues only a few years earlier, became one of the most reliable goal-scorers in the Premier League. Riyad Mahrez turned into a lethal attacking threat, while N’Golo Kanté established supremacy covering acres of space in the midfield. First-year manager Claudio Ranieri, a genuinely nice Italian man, finally won a trophy by showing restraint in the changes he made to a team nobody expected to challenge for the top.

Leicester’s struggles in the 2016-17 season only serve to show its title was a truly singular event. When the Italian Andea Bocelli sang for Leicester on the day it won the trophy, it was impossible to keep a dry eye. These Foxes had achieved the unthinkable. 

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.