Kasper Schmeichel

'A Club In Evolution, Always Getting Better' – Schmeichel On 10 Years As A Fox

Leicester City's first-ever Premier League title, a maiden FA Cup, a record-equalling seventh Championship triumph – Kasper Schmeichel's honours list at King Power Stadium is impressive. His individual impact at the Club on and off the field of play, however, has been integral.
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Kasper's Foxes story began in the summer of 2011 as former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson constructed a squad he believed was capable of securing the Club's long-awaited return to the Premier League. Leicester's recent history had been arduous.  

They were still recovering from a first campaign outside the top two tiers in England but, with the backing of King Power International, finally the Blue Army could look upwards. Although a sound piece of business at the time, few would have anticipated quite how successful Schmeichel's signing would be.

Today, as City's No.1 toasts 10 years on Filbert Way, Schmeichel stands among the Club's greatest-ever players – a roll call which includes shot-stoppers such as the late Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton and Mark Wallington. Domestically, Kasper has achieved more than all of them at Leicester City Football Club.

Only five players across the Club's entire 137-year history have made more appearances than Schmeichel. Nobody has starred so frequently on the international scene while being a Leicester player. Not one won more Player of the Season honours either. 

Ten years to the day since his transfer from Leeds United was confirmed, Kasper himself reflects on his historic decade as a Fox...

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Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper was an integral member of Sven-Göran Eriksson's Leicester side - just as he's been for every Foxes manager since.

"There’s so many good people at the Club. That was something that the Chairman thought was really important."

"I felt at home when I came here, I’ve said that many times," Kasper recalls, looking back to the decision he made to swap Elland Road for King Power Stadium in 2011. "I was lucky to find somewhere where I stayed for a long time. There were big ambitions.

"The Chairman (Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha) always spoke to me about the vision he had and where he wanted us to be. I can honestly say that everything he said, he delivered on."

Eriksson has been in charge for half a year, but the summer of 2011 was a big one for the Club. Leicester showcased their ambitions with a summer window which included the signings of David Nugent, Jermaine Beckford, Paul Konchesky, Gélson Fernandes and Schmeichel himself.

Things didn't quite work out, though, and by November, Nigel Pearson was back at the helm after a brief spell away. The man who lifted the League 1 title on Filbert Way would eventually guide the Club back to the Premier League – a decade after their last campaign in the top division. 

Many of the staff at King Power Stadium or at the training ground today were at the Club back then. A spine of 'good people' as Schmeichel calls them – experts in their respective fields – runs through the Club's football operation. For Kasper, that consistency is part of Leicester City's incredible story.

"There’s so many good people at the Club," the Danish Footballer of the Year adds. "That was something that the Chairman thought was really important. He knew it was important to have good people. When you look at the players, think about how many of them have stayed here for a long, long time.

"The staff here now, so many of them were here when I joined. They’re still here. The Club is a unified club, it’s woven into the fabric that everyone looks after each other and respects each other. There’s so many great moments that we’ve shared together.

"I joined in the Championship and it was a side that had just been taken over and I think the world had seen so many takeovers by rich owners. They might not have known what we’d be getting here.

"Obviously, the Chairman did everything for us and has brought us to this day where we sit here, 10 years later, and we’ve won the Premier League, won the FA Cup and we have great opportunities in every single competition we enter. We’re sitting in this amazing training ground which was built as well.

"The Club just keeps progressing and that’s part of the appeal of Leicester City. Why I love being here is because we're a club which is in constant evolution. We’re always trying to get better.

"The perception from the outside world, I think, is that we’re a club going in the right direction and one that has been for a long time. It’s important that it’s not just a rich owner coming in for a couple of years… it’s sustained. There’s been investment but money is being invested into the future of the Club."

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Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel played all 46 matches of the Club's Sky Bet Championship-winning campaign in 2013/14.

"It’s been an amazing time. There’s so many unbelievable memories. So many ups and downs. It’s just the best time of my career and I’m still loving it."

The pinnacle of Schmeichel's time at Leicester City – and indeed the Club's existence – came in the summer of 2016 when, just two years after winning promotion, the Foxes were confirmed as Premier League champions for the first time. It was arguably the greatest achievement in football history. 

A side who had narrowly avoided relegation 12 months earlier had transformed itself into the most in-form outfit in Europe, losing just three league games all season, eclipsing some of the largest clubs in world football. Schmeichel played every single minute of every league match for Claudio Ranieri in 2015/16.

"Obviously, winning the Premier League would be my favourite moment," the 34-year-old continues. "That’s on the pitch, it’s one you get to share with the fans. The favourite moments are being in the dressing room after the games, being with the lads, with the staff, everybody we have at the Club.

"We like to celebrate things together, we had dinners and times away from football with each other. They’re the kind of things I’ll look back on one day when I do finish my career. I’m sure I’ll look back and really miss those days. It’s been an amazing time. There’s so many unbelievable memories.

"So many ups and downs. It’s just the best time of my career and I’m still loving it."

Kasper has been a virtual ever-present throughout his entire time with the Foxes. His current run of consecutive Premier League starts spans back to 19 April, 2018 and covers three whole campaigns. He's played behind a variety of defensive collectives, both domestically and in Europe.

Whenever Leicester have been successful, the triumphs have been defined by rock-solid defences. Wes Morgan, Marcin Wasilewski, Robert Huth and Jonny Evans have been warriors for City over recent seasons and that solidity at the back is essential for a goalkeeper to thrive, Schmeichel believes.

"I think, for any team, stability is really important, particularly in the defensive positions," he explains. "We’re lucky because we’ve had that a lot over the years. Obviously, Wes has been here for so many years and provided such great service, such stability.

"Huthy was the same. Now, with Jonny, being able to be stable and have that running through for long periods is really important because that gives you a platform to build on for creative players to go on and express themselves and go and win the games.

"If you’re on the outside looking in on Leicester, we have probably the best training ground in the country now. We have one of the best managers in the world. We have an exciting squad too. We have everything going for us to be successful. It’s a great place to be. It’s somewhere I really enjoy being.

"Brendan [Rodgers] coming in, I think, has lifted it to a level it’d never been before. He brought a level of playing and professionalism which demands everything. It’s all brought us to a place where we can compete. I think that’s always going to be really, really difficult in this league, with the money and resources at the disposal of other teams, but for us to be consistently competing is really, really important."

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Kasper Schmeichel

Hoisting the FA Cup trophy to the skies alongside Club captain Wes Morgan.

"When you’re put into a team like Leicester with a manager like Brendan with this kind of structure, it makes it so much more enjoyable."

Kasper's Leicester City journey has not been a straight line. In the early days, promotion bids faltered, most famously at Watford in 2013. Relegation was averted in dramatic fashion two years later. The summer of 2016 was an unforgettable period of happiness and glory.

European runs followed. Dips down the division too. But now, as the Club prepares for an eighth consecutive campaign in the Premier League, the Foxes are in fine health as newly-crowned FA Cup winners and regular competitors at the top of the league table.

There's more to come, too, says Schmeichel, whose own game has evolved with the times. Not only he is such an authoritative shot-stopper, but he's also a vital component of City's possession-based game plan. It's a philosophy inspired by Rodgers and embraced by Leicester's squad, including Kasper himself. 

"No matter what, every time you have a new manager, or you’re in a different league, you have to adapt," he adds. "Playing in the Championship, we played in a specific way, and then under different managers, you play in all sorts of different ways.

"In terms of the way we play now, it’s a style I’ve always played for my national team and it’s a style I like playing. When you’re put into a team like Leicester with a manager like Brendan with this kind of structure, it makes it so much more enjoyable.

"There’s so many options for you. As a ‘keeper, you have to be creative with your style of play. My style of play has to evolve and it is evolving. When we had fans in the stadium, I think you could hear the nervousness and the trepidation when we started playing out from the back.

"It wasn’t something that Leicester fans were used to seeing, so you could feel that nervousness. But it’s something which is a process.

"It’s an education for the players, it’s an education for the Club and for the fans, but we’re seeing that it’s a way of playing which also works. It gives us great rewards, which the results show. For me, having that style of play is fantastic.

"I have to be creative with my feet now, which means you can’t be perfect all the time. You’re being asked to be creative. As a goalkeeper now, it's highlighted a lot more, but it’s something I really enjoy doing and it’s something we’ve really seen the rewards you can reap from it."

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Kasper Schmeichel

Sharing a vintage moment with the Blue Army at Wembley.

"When you experience these highs, you want more. This should be a taster of what we want to be doing every season – we want to be competing in every season."

There's little Schmeichel hasn't achieved at the Football Club. A Premier League and Championship champion, domestic cup success did, however, evade City's No.1 at King Power Stadium – until 15 May, 2021. With a 1-0 success over Chelsea at Wembley, a 137-year-old wait finally came to an end.

After Youri Tielemans' stunning opener, a decisive touch onto a Ben Chilwell header kept Leicester in front. Then, with seconds remaining, Kasper flung himself across his goal to divert Mason Mount's emphatic volley behind for a corner. Just as he'd always done, Schmeichel stepped up for the big occasion.

"It’s a dream come true," the Copenhagen-born 'keeper continues. "It’s something I dreamed of when I was a child, so to realise it and to realise it in the way we did, it’s amazing. I was just happy for the final whistle at the end. We’re all there to do our jobs and, this time, it came off for us.

"What a goal to win it with as well, so it’s a great day and an absolutely amazing experience, the whole thing. You can see that in the celebrations, how together people are, and how much it means to us. It was amazing to be able to have fans there and to share that moment.

"After 137 years of trying, to be able to write our names in history as the first Leicester City team to do it, it’s amazing, and to share it with the fans and with each other on the pitch and in the dressing room was fantastic. Having won the Premier League, that feeling just gets amplified.

"When you experience these highs, you want more. This should be a taster of what we want to be doing every season – we want to be competing in every season. We’ve showed the youngsters what is possible. When you work together as a team, you might not be favourites, but you can come out on top.

"It’s all a bit of blur right now. I’ve held that trophy before when my father won it, so to be able to lift it ourselves was an amazing feeling."

Ten years into his magical association with Leicester City, Schmeichel is still lifting trophies for the Foxes. As the Club looks boldly into the future, there is genuine reason for optimism at King Power Stadium – and Kasper is likely to be a central figure yet again in 2021/22.

As the Dane enters his second decade with the Foxes, he is keen to address the Blue Army directly. Although opportunities to be together have been limited over recent months due to COVID-19, Schmeichel says their backing never goes unnoticed. 

"Thank you for amazing support through all these years," he concludes. "It’s been amazing to see and feel the backing we have always. From the first moment I joined the Club, I felt at home. We’ve missed you. It’s been far too long without fans.

"King Power Stadium is a lovely stadium, but it’s not the same when it’s empty. I hope we can get them back and start having that interaction again, but I’m just so very grateful for all the support I’ve received over these years. Thank you."

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