Leicester City’s Premier League title dream became reality on Monday as their only remaining challengers Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 at Chelsea to complete one of the greatest ever sporting achievements.
The result provoked an outpouring of celebration in the provincial English city and as far away as Thailand and Japan, with Leicester’s players having watched nervously on television along with Foxes fans packed into local bars 160km away.
Goals from Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-min had looked like extending the title race to the penultimate week of what has been an unforgettable season.
Gary Cahill gave Chelsea a lifeline just before the hour, however, and substitute Eden Hazard’s superb 83rd-minute equaliser ended Spurs’ slim title hopes to the delight of Leicester and their former Chelsea manager, Italian Claudio Ranieri.
As tempers flared at the end of a red-hot London derby at Stamford Bridge, television pictures cut away to Leicester’s players celebrating in the living room of their striker Jamie Vardy, whose 22 goals have under-pinned his side’s challenge.
Elsewhere in Leicester, the city’s biggest ever party began in earnest, with hundreds of fans gathering outside the stadium and thousands more celebrating in pubs and bars.
Leicester’s unlikely journey from no-hopers to English champions has captivated sports fans worldwide, nowhere more so than in Thailand, home of the club’s owners King Power.
Defender Wes Morgan, who scored his side’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday, summed up the mood.
“Nobody believed we could do it, but here we are, Premier League champions and deservedly so,” he told Leicester’s website.
“Saturday can’t come quickly enough. I can’t wait to get my hands on the trophy.”