Leicester City win the Championship title

Remembering When City Ended Their Top-Flight Exile

As Leicester City approached the 2013/14 campaign, there was precious little certainty about how the Foxes would fare after the circumstances of May.
More on this story...

The impact of Troy Deeney's right boot - scoring a last-minute winner in the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals in extraordinary scenes at Vicarage Road - had left a real, emotional mark on City.

Their dreams of returning to the Premier League had been dashed in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable. Leicester's response was to keep the squad - and the management team - together.

Summer signings were kept to a minimum, with Zoumana Bakayogo and Dean Hammond signing before the opening day, while Ryan Watson, Marcin Wasilewski and Gary Taylor-Fletcher joined later in September.

Nigel Pearson retained a resolute faith in the players who had come so close to ending a nine-year absence from the top-flight and that was eventually rewarded with one of the Club's best-ever seasons.

Expand photo
Marcin Wasilewski
Marcin Wasilewski

Signings were few and far between, but made a real impact, like the capture of Wasilewski from Anderlecht.

A success at Middlesbrough on day one was followed by a goalless stalemate with Leeds United, before successive victories over Derby County and Birmingham City outlined City's promotion credentials. 

Aside from occasional missteps, including when Yann Kermorgant netted against his former employers in a 2-1 win for Charlton Athletic at The Valley, Leicester won 15 games before the New Year.

Following a slender 1-0 victory over Reading on Boxing Day, on the other hand, the Foxes' grip of top spot in the Championship would not yield - not once. They'd only suffer one more loss all season.

This was, indeed, a triumph which was years in the making. Under the guidance of Chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Club had slowly built the footballing and infrastructural foundations required.

Expand photo
Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

Vardy's pace and incredible finishing ability stunned the Championship.

A solid spine had been constructed within Leicester's starting XI - a spine which would go on and achieve another breath-taking success two years later - and Pearson had absolute trust in his players.

Following a difficult first season in the Championship, Jamie Vardy, signed from Fleetwood Town, was now settling at a higher level, netting a total of 16 league goals for City in the Championship.

The more astute signings of Sven-Göran Eriksson's tenure in charge had been retained as well, with Kasper Schmeichel blossoming into the top-level 'keeper his talent always suggested was possible.

David Nugent, too, ended the 2013/14 season as the Club's top goalscorer with 22 strikes to his name, while stars of Pearson's first spell in charge also excelled, four years after winning the League 1 title.

Expand photo
Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Future PFA Footballer of the Year Mahrez injected even further quality into the squad.

Lloyd Dyer and Andy King, for instance, made a combined 70 league appearances, scoring 11 goals between them. Players were collectively approaching their peak years at the right time. It seemed like destiny.

In January, meanwhile, Pearson - advised by chief scout Steve Walsh - made two different, but equally crucial, signings, each of whom would have defining influences over the final five months of the season.

Unheralded Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez joined for a reportedly nominal fee from Le Havre, while veteran striker Kevin Phillips, fresh from helping Crystal Palace win promotion, also signed up to the cause.

Between 21 December, 2013 and 1 February, 2014, the Foxes won a Club-record nine games in a row in a run of form which included fondly-remembered triumphs over Derby County and Leeds United.

Expand photo
Anthony Knockaert
Anthony Knockaert

A brilliant free-kick from 'Knocky' all but ensured promotion against Sheffield Wednesday.

A rare draw, with Yeovil Town, meanwhile, was still an example of City's defiance as, in the last minute, Schmeichel appeared to net a last-minute equaliser against the relegation-threatened Glovers.

Chris Wood was there to make sure, though, and was officially awarded the goal, but many members of the Blue Army still accredit City's Danish stopper with securing a precious point in March.

By the time Sheffield Wednesday visited King Power Stadium, just a week after a euphoric, but fraught, 2-0 victory at second-placed Burnley, Leicester were on the cusp of achieving their 10-year dream.

With the scores locked at 1-1, a free-kick was awarded to City in the 61st minute. Up stepped Anthony Knockaert, a hero to a certain generation of supporters, to curl in a superb free-kick for the hosts.

Expand photo
David Nugent
David Nugent

Nugent struck the winner in a narrow victory at Elland Road.

That win - Leicester's 27th of the season, meant they'd finally win promotion if third-placed Queens Park Rangers lost at AFC Bournemouth and Derby failed to win at Middlesbrough a day later.

On 5 April, six years ago today, the Rams lost 1-0, while Rangers suffered a 2-1 defeat. Huddled around TVs, radios and smart phones, the Foxes faithful could rejoice at last. We were back. Finally.

The open-top bus tour of the city was already being arranged, but Leicester had a title to win. At Bolton Wanderers on 22 April, Dyer's fizzing second-half strike wrote the Club's name on the trophy.

New Club landmarks for total points (102), league wins (31), home triumphs (17), consecutive victories (9) and successive away success (5) were secured. In truth, Leicester's title victory was a procession.

Expand photo
Nigel Pearson
Nigel Pearson

Pearson and his backroom team celebrate winning the title at full-time in Bolton.

Securing promotion with six league matches still to play ensured that the final day visit of former Fox Paul Dickov's Doncaster Rovers could be the stress-free party City fans craved.

Doncaster, though, were relegated on the final day, but having suffered a similar heartbreak at Stoke City six years earlier, the Blue Army were mindful to be dignified in their celebrations.

It was, of course, Leicester's day, though, and when captain Wes Morgan hoisted the trophy aloft, a packed King Power Stadium toasted their heroes. They'd won the title in style.

Little did we know it at the time, as fans awaited the Club's return to the Premier League, but this was only the beginning. Unthinkable glory awaited Leicester City in future.

Leicester City Crest

Latest News

More Videos

Latest Images