Ayoze Pérez

When Europe's Elite Visited Leicester In Pre-Season

A week after the 2019/20 Premier League season concluded, the final week of July is quiet this summer, during a time when teams across the world would usually be finalising their preparations for a new campaign.
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Following an elongated 2019/20 season, Leicester City and their top-flight rivals are only just beginning to recuperate after term which eventually lasted 11 months from start to finish. Over the years, late July and early August have paid witness to the world's biggest clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, visiting Leicester to contest showpiece friendly fixtures.

During a summer like no other in City's recent history, LCFC.com takes a nostalgic look back to some of these encounters, including notable mid-season friendlies, which took place in Leicester...

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

Ayoze Pérez netted for Leicester at King Power Stadium for the first time against Atalanta.

Leicester City 2 Atalanta 1
2 August, 2019
King Power Stadium

The Foxes prepared for the recent 2019/20 campaign with an assured 2-1 success over UEFA Champions League debutants Atalanta on Filbert Way just under one year ago. After being frustrated earlier on, summer signing Ayoze Pérez beat two defenders before slotting into the bottom corner with 61 minutes gone to score his second goal of pre-season. Christian Fuchs’ instinctive long throw then released Jamie Vardy, who took a touch and applied a cool finish into the right-hand corner, before Luis Muriel halved the deficit from the penalty spot late on.

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Ronaldinho in Leicester
Ronaldinho in Leicester

Ronaldinho was among the selection of stars to visit Leicester.

Leicester City 0 FC Barcelona 1
8 August, 2003
King Power Stadium

Less than a month after signing from Paris Saint Germain, Brazilian Ronaldinho gave a demonstration of his impressive skills in an entertaining friendly ahead of the 2003/04 Premier League season. The European giants drew a then-record crowd of 32,086 to King Power Stadium for a clash that had a competitive edge - seeing Dutch international Phillip Cocu - now manager at Derby County - sent off after just 20 minutes. The star-studded visitors eventually came out on top, with Argentine Javier Saviola scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time to win it for Frank Rijkaard’s men over Micky Adams’ Foxes.

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Jock Wallace
Jock Wallace

Jock Wallace remains one of the most popular LCFC managers.

Leicester City 3 Red Star Belgrade 0
11 February, 1981
Filbert Street

Thirteen-time Yugoslav First League champions Red Star Belgrade made the trip to Filbert Street in February of 1981. The side from the former Yugoslavia arrived with a big reputation and faced a Leicester City side managed by Jock Wallace, who were fresh from taking the 1979/80 Second Division title. However, despite Red Star's impressive trophy cabinet, the team in red and white proved to be no match for the inspired Foxes, who ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, thanks to a hat-trick from Scottish striker Jim Melrose.

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Jordan Stewart
Jordan Stewart

Jordan Stewart becomes the first Foxes player to score at the Club's new home.

Leicester City 1 Athletic Bilbao 1
4 August, 2002
King Power Stadium

City’s 2002 fixture against Bilbao was the game that ushered in a new era of football for the Club with the grand opening of the new stadium, following the move from Filbert Street. Managed by Jupp Heynkes, who later guided Bayern Munich the Champions League crown in 2013, the team from northern Spain boasted a host of impressive talent such as Spanish international Joseba Etxeberria. The match itself ended 1-1 with Leicester City Academy graduate Jordan Stewart scoring for the Foxes, who went on to clinch promotion to the Premier League in the season that followed.

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Momo Sylla
Momo Sylla

Momo Sylla closes down Inter Milan's Brazil international goalkeeper Júlio César.

Leicester City 1 Internazionale 2
25 July, 2005
King Power Stadium

The 2005/06 pre-season programme saw another of world football’s big hitters make the trip to Leicester to face Craig Levein's Foxes in the form of three-time European Cup winners, Inter Milan. Managed by former Leicester City player Roberto Mancini, the visitors also faced Crystal Palace, Portsmouth and Norwich City in their four-game tour. The 18-times Serie A champions raced into a 2-0 lead on the night as Santiago Solari and Lampros Choutos both scored past City ‘keeper Paul Henderson, before Chris O’Grady made it 2-1 from the spot after Leonardo Bonucci had upended Mark De Vries.

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Lloyd Dyer
Lloyd Dyer

City were beaten by their illustrious visitors, but Lloyd Dyer's goal was the highlight for the home side.

Leicester City 1 Real Madrid C.F. 2
30 July, 2011
King Power Stadium

Perhaps the most high-profile team to visit in recent years, Real Madrid made the trip from Spain in July 2011 to take part in a memorable exhibition match in the build up to the 2011/12 campaign. José Mourinho’s team included £80M signing Cristiano Ronaldo, former world Player of the Year, Kaká, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Ramos. Sven-Gören Eriksson was City's manager. Spanish winger José Callejón opened the scoring for Madrid in the first half, before France's Karim Benzema added a second after the break, while Lloyd Dyer was on the scoresheet for Leicester in a 2-1 defeat.

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Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho

Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring for the Foxes at King Power Stadium.

Leicester City 1 Valencia C.F. 1
1 August, 2018
King Power Stadium

A youthful Leicester City side were held to a 1-1 draw by Spanish outfit Valencia at King Power Stadium in August 2018. Some fine attacking play from new signing James Maddison eventually saw the ball fall to Kelechi Iheanacho, who riffled a first-time shot past Jaume Domènech on 11 minutes. However, the La Liga outfit responded and it was Parejo who was on target for his side, as he calmly slotted into the bottom corner eight minutes after Iheanacho’s opener.

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Celtic visit Leicester
Celtic visit Leicester

Although there were no goals, there was plenty of intrigue when Celtic visited Filbert Way.

Leicester City 0 Celtic 0
19 July, 2005
King Power Stadium

In the week leading up to the 2005 Inter Milan clash, King Power Stadium played host to another former European Cup winner in the form of Scottish side Celtic. The Hoops were managed by the newly-appointed Gordon Strachen for the trip, who had taken over after ex-Leicester City’s manager Martin O’Neill’s successful five-year spell in charge of the Parkhead side. It was a game that City could easily have won were it not for Celtic’s Polish international Artur Boruc, who denied Dion Dublin from the penalty spot in the opening stages before again being on hand late into the match to deny Gareth Williams a winning goal.

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Dean Sturridge
Dean Sturridge

Dean Sturridge's hat-trick sealed a draw for the Foxes against their Italian visitors.

Leicester City 3 ACF Fiorentina 3
10 August, 2001
Filbert Street

Four years before he brought Inter Milan to Leicester, a Roberto Mancini-managed Fiorentina side took part in a thrilling friendly fixture at Filbert Street that saw six goals. The stylish Italian had joined the Club in January of that year at the age of 36, but five games after making his debut against Arsenal, he left to take up the manager’s reigns with Fiorentina. It turned out to be a memorable match, with stars such as Portugal’s Nuno Gomes turning out for the visitors, but thanks to a scintillating hat-trick from City’s Dean Sturridge, the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

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Dortmund come to town
Dortmund come to town

The inaugural floodlit match against Borussia Dortmund was followed by others against Beogradski and Rio do Canto later that season.

Leicester City 1 Borussia Dortmund 0
23 October, 1957
Filbert Street

City’s historic 1957 tie with German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund was memorable for a number of reasons, not least due to the fact it was the first game to be played under floodlights at Filbert Street. Floodlights in football had been seen as far back as 1878, when Bramall Lane played host to the world’s first floodlit match, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that their use began to spread throughout the English game. The Foxes soon followed suit and Dortmund were chosen as the illustrious opposition to mark the occasion. City rose to the occasion, too, and ran out 1-0 winners, with Scottish striker Willie Gardiner netting the only goal.

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