Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel's 11 Years As City's No.1

As Kasper Schmeichel celebrates the anniversary of becoming a Leicester City player on this day (27 June) in 2011, there is no doubting his influence on the Club’s remarkable recent achievements.

Monday 27 June, 2011 proved to be an important date in the recent history of Leicester City Football Club.

It may not the date the Premier League trophy was lifted, nor when the Club took its first steps in the UEFA Champions League, or even the most recent promotion to the top flight.

But all those subsequent moments, and many more in between, have been realised with one man a constant presence. Kasper Schmeichel.

Few have left and will leave such a long-lasting, indelible mark on the Football Club. He will go down as one of Leicester City’s all-time greats. And in tandem with Leicester, his journey to the pinnacle of the English game has been far from easy...

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Kasper Schmeichel

It was a Foxes debut to remember for City's new No.1, who kept a clean sheet as his side triumphed at Coventry City.

Arriving from then fellow Championship outfit Leeds United on that day in the summer of 2011, it was Sven-Göran Eriksson who brought him to Filbert Way as the Club’s new owners, King Power International, began an exciting new era at Leicester City.

What followed was soon to be under the guidance of Nigel Pearson, brought back to the Club where he had secured the League 1 title two years earlier, after a short spell at Hull City.

Kasper kept a clean sheet on his Foxes debut, a 1-0 triumph over Coventry City at Ricoh Arena on 6 August, 2011. The full line-up that day was: Schmeichel, Peltier, Bamba, Mills, Konchesky, Wellens, Abe, Danns, Fernandes, Vassell, Nugent. Of that squad, only substitute Andy King would join Schmeichel in lifting the Premier League trophy four years later.

From there on in, Schmeichel was first choice between the sticks, playing all 46 league fixtures and making a further six appearances in cup competitions, which took the shot-stopper to over half a century of games for the Club in his first campaign.

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Kasper Schmeichel

The Danish shot-stopper quickly established himself as Leicester's first choice 'keeper.

He recorded an impressive 17 clean sheets in the process, including a run of four consecutive shutouts in September, and saved four spot-kicks on the way to being named the Club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season, both accolades he has since claimed on a second occasion.  

The Foxes fell short of a play-off spot that year, finishing ninth on 66 points, nine away from what was required for a top six finish. Something special was brewing, however, as Pearson, appointed in November 2011 with the Club in 12th position, continued to build and shape the squad.

Schmeichel was at the very heart of his plans, alongside a January signing from Nottingham Forest, centre-back Wes Morgan. Both would be named in the PFA’s Championship Team of the Year at the end of the next season.

Just as he had a year earlier, City’s No.1 recorded a clean sheet on the opening day of the 2012/13 campaign, keeping out Peterborough United in a 2-0 home win, having done the same in the League Cup win at Torquay United four days earlier.

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Kasper Schmeichel & Clarke Carlisle

Schmeichel was named in the PFA's Championship Team of the Year for 2012/13.

A run to the play-offs followed, with Schmeichel playing his part with a further 15 clean sheets in the regular season – of which he played every fixture once more – including memorable triumphs over Ipswich Town (6-0) and Bristol City (4-0) as well as recording his 100th Leicester appearance in April 2013.

Having sneaked into the top six on the final day by virtue of goal difference, Leicester faced Watford and, with Schmeichel in goal, took a 1-0 victory from the first leg. There was to be heartbreak, however, as the Hornets progressed into the final after late drama at Vicarage Road.

It was during the 2012/13 season that Schmeichel made his senior Denmark debut, against Macedonia in February 2013, before his first competitive game came eight months later in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Malta, in which he kept a clean sheet.

During his time at Leicester, international caps have been frequent occurrences for the Danish stopper, representing his country on 84 occasions to date, including runs to the last 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the semi-finals of the 2020 UEFA European Championship.

Denmark's place at this year's World Cup in Qatar is also secured and no Leicester player has played more times for their country whilst at the Club than Schmeichel.

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Kasper Schmeichel & David Nugent

A safe pair of hands holds the Championship trophy, celebrating promotion with David Nugent.

Back to club matters, City came back stronger in 2013/14 and would go on to lift the Championship title with a mammoth 102 points.

Again, Schmeichel played every single league and cup fixture that campaign (51), and amassed 18 clean sheets, his highest total since joining the Foxes, finishing the season with four shutouts in a row as Leicester prepared for their Premier League return.

Later named in the Football League’s Team of the Decade for 2005-2015, Schmeichel also signed a new four-year contract at the Club that summer, underlining his commitment to Leicester City.  

On countless occasions, his 6ft 2ins frame has proved decisive in rushing out to thwart strikers in one-on-one situations or collecting high crosses with dominant authority, while also possessing excellent shot-stopping and distribution qualities.

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Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel applauds the Blue Army after a historic victory over Manchester United a month into Leicester City's Premier League return.

It was against Manchester United that Leicester made their first real mark since returning to the top division of English football, winning 5-3 at King Power Stadium in September 2014. Schmeichel was displaying experience beyond his years, now against the best teams in the land.

Barring that historic win, however, it was turning into a difficult season for the Club. Schmeichel would only play 24 of the 38 top flight fixtures, picking up a metatarsal injury that ruled him out from early December until mid-March.

His return coincided with an upturn in form and a nomination for the Premier League’s April Player of the Month award.

Despite the odds being stacked against new boys Leicester, they won six out of the next seven games and then confirmed Premier League status for another year with a goalless draw away at Sunderland.

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Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel celebrates securing Premier League survival at the Stadium of Light.

It was the third consecutive clean sheet Schmeichel had recorded in the division and a fifth in six games. The great escape was complete.

That summer, Pearson was replaced by Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, best known in the English game for his spell at Chelsea more than a decade earlier. No one could have predicted the season that followed. 

Schmeichel’s influence continued to grow as the Club made a breathtaking start to the 2015/16 season. The wins were racking up and clean sheets would soon follow – at home to Crystal Palace and away at Newcastle United and Swansea City – to sit top of the pile on Christmas Day.

Then came a run of three successive shutouts and five in six matches at the turn of the year, including a draw with Manchester City and wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, proving Leicester’s capabilities at the top of the table.

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Kasper Schmeichel

Lifting the Premier League trophy on the greatest day in the Football Club's history.

A further streak of five consecutive clean sheets – all but one 1-0 victories – had helped put Leicester on the brink of the impossible.

A 4-0 success at home to Swansea on 24 April meant just one more win was required. Leicester then drew at Old Trafford, leaving Tottenham the task of winning at Chelsea to keep the title race alive.

Schmeichel and his team-mates gathered at Jamie Vardy’s house to watch the game unfold. A 2-2 draw sent the squad into raptures. Kasper Schmeichel had become a Premier League champion for the first time at the age of 29.

After signing his new five-year contract, a momentous first-ever foray into the UEFA Champions League followed, with City’s No.1 still the irreplaceable Schmeichel. Incredibly, he did not concede a single goal in his four group stage appearances, as City stormed to qualification as group winners.

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Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel led Leicester into a first-ever UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, against Atlético Madrid.

Although things did not go as planned in the league, a 12th place finish was overshadowed by the European campaign and run to the quarter-finals.

Schmeichel returned to the starting XI for the two-legged battle with Sevilla, saving a penalty in the first leg and also keeping the Spanish giants at bay in the second tie with another spot-kick save, as Leicester triumphed 2-0 on the night to qualify for the last eight.

The 2017/18 season would begin under Craig Shakespeare, but Claude Puel was soon the man in charge, as City eventually finished in ninth position, with Schmeichel making 35 appearances in all competitions and making two penalties saves, including one in a 2-0 away success at Brighton & Hove Albion.

The succeeding campaign of 2018/19 began with Schmeichel signing another new deal and saw the mid-season appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager. A second successive ninth-place finish was secured, with the Dane involved in every minute of each Premier League fixture, making his 300th league appearance in the process.

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Kasper Schmeichel

The Dane captained City during their maiden UEFA Europa League campaign in 2020/21.

Again in 2019/20, Schmeichel featured in all 38 Premier League matches for the Foxes, keeping 13 clean sheets as the Club qualified for the UEFA Europa League for the first time.

In that latest European campaign, Schmeichel's two clean sheets in the opening two home group games helped the Foxes made it three wins from three, before qualifying for the knockout stages in top spot.

A further shutout followed in the first leg of the last 32 tie against Slavia Prague, but ultimately City fell short against the Czechs.

The 2020/21 league season, meanwhile, included a third consecutive ever-present season in the starting XI for Schmeichel and a second successive fifth-place finish. It was the FA Cup, however, that brought a trophy Leicester had waited 137 years to claim. And Schmeichel had a huge part to play in the final.  

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Kasper Schmeichel & Wes Morgan

Two men who have been there throughout the journey from the Championship to becoming FA Cup winners.

After Youri Tielemans' stunning goal, City were holding on to their lead against Chelsea when Schmeichel produced two unbelievable stops, clawing former Fox Ben Chilwell’s header away from goal before getting a strong, vital palm on Mason Mount’s ferocious effort, to tip it wide of danger.

The crowd thought it was in, but Schmeichel had other ideas. The cup was won. In the absence of Club skipper Morgan, the Dane has captained the side on many occasions over the past few seasons, outlining his leadership qualities on and off the field.

Both were on the field for the final whistle at Wembley, though, and lifting the oldest cup competition trophy together as the two players to be at the Club during the start of a momentous era of success. 

Winning the most prestigious domestic cup trophy in the English game – there was no more fitting way to mark Schmeichel’s decade at Leicester City.

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Kasper Schmeichel

Schmeichel and his team-mates tasted more success in the capital.

Taking the armband permanently following Morgan's retirement, 2021/22 started with Schmeichel lifting another trophy at Wembley - this time the FA Community Shield, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the traditional curtain raiser.

Another European adventure followed. Although there was disappointment in falling out of the Europa League, City's No.1 also played every minute of the historic journey to the last-four of the Europa Conference League - City's first-ever European semi-final appearance.

The 35-year-old was an almost ever-present in the Premier League, too, playing 37 of the 38 matches as Leicester ended the season in eighth position. Making the second-most saves by any 'keeper in the division (131), he also made two penalty saves - the second-highest in the top-flight. 

Highly commended at the 2021 France Football awards, he was one of the 10 goalkeepers nominated for the prestigious Yashin Trophy, and then shortlisted for the Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper Award, alongside some of Europe's greatest 'keepers.  

As the new season comes into view, Kasper Schmeichel's Leicester City story goes on and there are more chapters to come in an enthralling journey.

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