His appointment was confirmed with the Foxes sitting 19th in the Premier League with eight games to play, following Brendan Rodgers' departure.
Most recently working at Norwich City, the 52-year-old has also overseen promotion to the Premier League as Aston Villa manager, following time in charge of Brentford during a successful spell in the capital. A defender during his playing days, Smith began his career at Walsall, playing more than 150 times for the Saddlers across five years in the West Midlands. A stint at Hereford United came next, with over a century of appearances to his name before moving on to Leyton Orient.
After a total of 309 games for the club, Smith joined Sheffield Wednesday, spending a year-and-a-half at Hillsborough prior to his career coming to a close at Port Vale having featured in close to 600 Football League fixtures. Smith’s coaching career started with former club Leyton Orient, working as a youth coach and then assistant manager for four years between 2005 and 2009. The summer of that year brought a move to another former side, Walsall, appointed as head of the Saddlers’ youth setup.
Smith, pictured with Jack Grealish, guided Villa to Premier League promotion.
By January 2011, Smith became first team manager, initially as caretaker, steering the club to League 1 safety after being nine points adrift when he took over. Another high point during his tenure arrived in 2015, reaching the EFL Trophy Final – Walsall’s first appearance at the new Wembley Stadium. Later that year, after being honoured with a Special Achievement Award by the LMA having finished in third position in League 1, Brentford came calling, appointing Smith as their manager in November 2015.
His first season of managerial experience in the Championship ended with a commendable ninth-place finish, signing several of the players that would later help the Bees consolidate themselves in the Premier League.
Two further top-10 finishes led to Aston Villa acquiring his services – with John Terry as assistant coach – in October 2018, following just short of three years at Brentford. A remarkable first season saw Villa rise from 15th position in the Championship upon his arrival to winning the play-offs at the end of the 2018/19 season, leading to a Premier League return for the Midlands club. Their run into the top six included breaking a 109-year-old club record for the longest winning streak by claiming 10 consecutive victories, before beating Derby County in the play-off final.
A place in the final of the League Cup followed in 2020, but there wasn’t to be more Wembley glory for the Villans, losing out to Manchester City in the showpiece, having overcome Leicester City in a two-legged semi-final. That same campaign saw Villa survive relegation on the final day of the 2019/20 season.
A win over Wolves in Smith's first home match offered hope.
A memorable result in the third game of the next season saw Villa defeat reigning champions Liverpool 7-2 at Villa Park, part of the club’s best start to a season since 1930. Smith brought up a century of games as Villa manager in December 2020, eventually finishing in 11th position. Leaving Villa three months into the 2021/22 campaign, Smith soon joined Norwich City, winning his first game in charge, but was unable to prevent the Canaries’ relegation from the Premier League at the end of that season. Following 13 months in charge of the Norfolk club, Smith’s time as Norwich manager came to an end, with Leicester City his next destination, alongside coaches Craig Shakespeare and John Terry. They joined the Club until the end of the 2022/23 season.
Although losing his debut away at Manchester City, Smith's first home game in charge saw City end their nine-game wait for a win with a 2-1 success over Wolverhampton Wanderers at King Power Stadium. Draws with two more relegation rivals, away at Leeds United and at home to Everton, saw the points tally grow further, ahead of a four-game run-in. Consecutive defeats by Fulham and Liverpool, though, were damaging. Despite a 0-0 stalemate at high-flying Newcastle United and a 2-1 final-day win over West Ham United, the Foxes fell two points short. They were relegated from the Premier League.
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