Matt Elliott

Inside The Dressing Room: Elliott On O'Neill, Izzet & Leicester's Potential In 2000

Matt Elliott has offered an intimate insight into Leicester City's iconic team spirit over the turn of the new millennium during the first episode of LCFC Radio's new Inside The Dressing Room podcast.

In the company of presenter Dan Bates, former Foxes skipper Elliott - who scored two goals at Wembley before lifting the League Cup in 2000 - speaks for over an hour about the halcyon Martin O'Neill era at Leicester City. From selecting his funniest City team-mates, to picking out a best XI from his era at the Club, Elliott speaks candidly about a magical time for the Blue Army.

While the podcast is available to listen to now, for free, on LCFC.com and any of your usual podcast sources, including iTunes and Spotify, we've picked out several highlights...

'Inspirational' O'Neill

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Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

O'Neill addresses his players ahead of the 1997 League Cup Final against Middlesbrough.

Matt Elliott said: "We were renowned for our attitude and the personality of the squad, as much as the football. We had a diverse range of characters in the squad. People from all walks of life. For some reason, we all gelled together for the common cause, which was getting the best out of ourselves. It was all marshalled, of course, by the inspirational man that is Martin O’Neill and it was a fun place to be, that’s for sure. He’s a bit alternative, Martin. I don’t think that will be a surprise to people. Sometimes he might talk for an hour about another team. Another time, he won’t even mention them. He just extenuated our positives."

Parker gets caught out

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Garry Parker
Garry Parker

Matty picked out Garry Parker as one of the Club's biggest jokers in the dressing room.

Matt Elliott said: "Garry Parker was the prankster. We had a couple of silly ones in there, cutting people’s socks and stuff, but he was a bit more original. He’d be more inventive and creative. He had love-hate relationship with Martin O’Neill. Under O’Neill, if you lost, it’s doomsday for a couple of days. If you win, it’s like winning the World Cup. We’d lost a game once and Garry’s come into the dressing room and started doing his Martin O’Neill impression. He’s ranting and raving… low and behold, who pops around the corner? Martin O’Neill! But Garry hasn’t seen him and Martin’s just sitting there watching him. Parks realises and turns around… Martin just went: ‘I’ll see you Monday, Parker.” Don’t think he played again!" 

Matty's bond with Walsh

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Steve Walsh
Steve Walsh

Walsh leads the celebrations in the dressing room after City's League Cup Semi-Final victory over Aston Villa in 2000.

Matt Elliott said: "I used to knock about with Taggs (Gerry Taggart), Walshy (Steve Walsh), Frank Sinclair and Tim Flowers, the defensive unit. The midfield boys used to stick together and then the centre forwards used to walk around on their own… because they’re selfish! They were brought up that way! I remember one time we were out in Spain and Walshy asked me if I could have a word with him. He just said to me: ‘People think that I’m finished because you’ve signed. I’m not letting that happen!’ I thought: ‘Eh up, are we going to have a problem here?’ But he just said: ‘I want to play alongside you to take this Club forward.’ He was an unbelievable character, Walshy. He had an unbelievable desire to him."

A memorable team talk

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Martin O'Neill, Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd
Martin O'Neill, Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd

Elliott remembers one team talk in particular from O'Neill before the Foxes tackled Manchester United.

Matt Elliott said: "I remember when we played Man Utd once. O’Neill settled everyone down in the changing room and he read their teamsheet out to us. Their team was always strong, but on their bench was David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, I think. Certainly, four of those were on the bench. A Man Utd team is never weak, they had Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær up front! He just read the team out off the teamsheet and he said: ‘Bed yourself in, boys, it’s going to be a long afternoon…’ And then he just walked out! His message was not to relax. He knew if we got off to a good start, they’d be bringing the full artillery on. He was just telling us we needed to be at our extreme best."

The best player during Elliott's time at City? 

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Muzzy Izzet
Muzzy Izzet

The former Leicester skipper selected Muzzy Izzet as his best Foxes team-mate during his time at the Club.

Matt Elliott said: "Anyone from that era will give the same answer. I had the pleasure of playing alongside the likes of Emile Heskey, Neil Lennon… the list goes on. But the answer’s got to be Muzzy Izzet, without a doubt. Every player that played with him appreciated his qualities. He could do the lot. He was only a skinny little sparrow, but he revelled in his time at Leicester. He became a quality Premier League performer and probably should have played at a higher level. I know some other clubs were in for him at times, but he was happy at Leicester. He was a chirpy, cheeky chappy around the dressing room too. An east London boy. A solid character and he always gave his all. He’s a good mate off the pitch too."

O'Neill's Leicester at the peak of their powers

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Stan Collymore
Stan Collymore

City fans had a glimpse of what could have been as Stan Collymore netted a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Sunderland.

Matt Elliott said: "I remember once, Martin brought me in for a private chat. I thought I was in trouble! I was captain at the time and he brought me in and he said: 'Matty, I want you to relay the message to the players that we're going places. I don't want to be eighth or ninth in the Premier League and winning a cup here and there. I want us to push on and be better than that'. He wanted to emulate what Leeds United were doing at time time, reaching Champions League slots. He had visions of that. That's why he brought the likes of Stan Collymore into the Club. If you think of that team at that time... We'd just won the League Cup, we were buzzing with confidence. It's definitely a case of what could have been."

Podcast

Inside The Dressing Room: Episode 1 - Matt Elliott

Matt Elliott takes us into the Foxes' dressing room of the '90s and early 00's in the first episode of LCFC's brand new podcast.

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