In between 18 May and 6 June, 1968, Leicester City Football Club was invited by the National Sport Foundation of Zambia to visit the country together with a party of 15 FA player/coaches. The aim of the tour was to promote and develop the game in Zambia.
Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda, who led the country from 1964 until 1991, described the visit as ‘probably the greatest occasion in the history of Association Football in Zambia'.
In the Club’s archives there are three items relating to this tour. These are the brochure for the tour, a personal letter to the Club from President Kaunda, and a telegram from Zambia’s Director of Sport wishing Leicester City success in the 1969 FA Cup Final.
The brochure for the tour provides pen portraits of the Leicester City party which, under first team coach Bert Johnson, consisted of Peter Shilton, Peter Rodrigues Willie Bell, Malcolm Manley, John Sjoberg, Graham Cross Alan Woollett David Nish, Bobby Roberts, Frank Large, Rodney Fern, Davie Gibson, Mike Stringfellow, Alan Tewley Len Glover and Brian Potts.
1969 Telegram from Zambia
Mr Kasonka, the Director of Sport in Zambia, sent a telegram to Leicester City ahead of their 1969 FA Cup Final.
The brochure also indicates that the FA Party of 15 qualified coaches included the future Tottenham Hotspur manager Keith Burkinshaw, the future Lincoln City, Watford, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and England manager Graham Taylor, the England star and future Stoke City manager George Eastham and the ex-Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg.
On the tour, Leicester City won all of the six games they played. Three fixtures were against the Zambian national side, two more were against a Zambian FA XI and there was one game against the English FA Player/Coaches XI.
The only letter the Club has ever received from a Head of State is also in the Club’s archive. It was written to Leicester City Chairman Alf Pallett by President Kaunda, who wrote from the State House in Lusaka on 26 September, 1968. Amongst other things, the President said that he had taken special note of the observations that Mr Pallett had made about football in Zambia and that these would help to improve soccer performances in his country.
Eight months later, when Leicester City reached the 1969 FA Cup Final against Manchester City, the Club received a telegram from Mr Kasonka, the Director of Sport in Zambia. This telegram has been preserved in the Club’s archives and reads: 'On behalf of all Sports Associations and the Ministry of Sport in Zambia, we wish you success at Wembley. Stop. Your success will also be ours. Stop'.
The social media reaction in Zambia to Patson Daka joining Leicester City indicates that the links between Leicester City and Zambia, which were so strong in 1968, are now being renewed 53 years later.
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