As we face Leicester on the last day of this season, it seems fitting to remember the big contribution of players with Chelsea links to the Foxes’ greatest triumph.
No less than four members of the Leicester squad which secured their one and only Premier League title against all odds in 2016 have also represented Chelsea.
Before he was bossing the midfield at Stamford Bridge, N’Golo Kante began his Premier League career with Leicester, moving to the King Power Stadium from his native France in the summer of 2015.
He only spent one season in the Midlands, but it was certainly a memorable one, as he played a key role in their fairytale title victory.
The Frenchman was little known when he arrived at Leicester but soon established himself as an invaluable member of their team, while likewise the Foxes went from unfancied 5,000-1 outsiders to Premier League champions.
Having seen Kante for Chelsea over the last three years, it will be no surprise to fans that he comfortably made more successful tackles and interceptions than any other player in the English top flight in 2015/16, as well as being voted into the PFA Team of the Year and chosen as Leicester’s Players’ Player of the Year.
Kante’s midfield partner for that unlikely title triumph was Danny Drinkwater, now a team-mate of his at Chelsea. However, Drinkwater’s time at the King Power Stadium was considerably longer, joining from Manchester United in 2012 and staying until his own move to west London five years later.
His first season with the Foxes was spent in the second tier, playing a key role in their first promotion to the top flight in 10 years, with his performances earning him a place in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and a nomination for Championship Player of the Year.
He was then one of several survivors from that promotion campaign to form the spine of the side which would win the Premier League just three years later, with that campaign bringing his own first top-flight goal, in a 3-0 home win over Stoke City, as well as a senior international debut, being named Man of the Match for England against the Netherlands at Wembley.
Another member of Leicester’s title-winning team who has also appeared for Chelsea was Robert Huth, who formed a rock-solid partnership with captain Wes Morgan at the heart of the Foxes’ defence between 2015 and 2018, having spent five years as a youngster with the Blues, winning our Young Player of the Year award.
He was crowned a champion in his first full season at the King Power Stadium, having joined permanently in the summer of 2015 after a spell on loan at the end of the previous campaign, becoming only the seventh player to have won the Premier League with two different clubs at the time, having picked up two winner’s medals with the Blues a decade earlier.
As well as his defensive duties, Huth contributed to Leicester’s title at the other end of the pitch with some important goals too, heading in to give them a 1-0 win over Tottenham and scoring twice in the 3-1 victory over Manchester City which sent them six-points clear at the top of the table.
Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was also a member of Leicester’s squad in 2015/16, having joined them from Chelsea in January of the previous season as cover for the injured Kasper Schmeichel. Although the Australian did not make a league appearance for Chelsea in 2014/15 or Leicester in 2015/16, as a squad member for both he still became the first player to win the Premier League title in successive seasons with different clubs.
Of course, in addition to those four players with Chelsea links who helped Leicester claim the title, the Foxes’ greatest season also came under the management of popular former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri.
The Italian first came to England to take up the role of Chelsea manager in 2000 and spent four years in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. He couldn’t guide us to silverware, but did oversee an important period for the club, as Roman Abramovich became owner, helping us become title challengers, finishing second in the Premier League and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in his last season here, 2003/04.
However, he did finally get his hands on the Premier League trophy when he returned to this country with Leicester in 2015. His accomplishments in guiding Leicester to their far-fetched season of glory understandably won him widespread praise and just about every individual honour going for a manager, including the FIFA World Coach of the Year award.
With so many links on and off the pitch between Chelsea and that heroic Leicester side, combined with the fact that it was our Eden Hazard-inspired draw with Tottenham which finally crowned the Foxes as that year’s Premier League champions, this latest meeting between the two clubs is bound to bring back more memories of one of football’s biggest upsets.
And who did the two sides play on the last day of that historic campaign? Each other, of course, with Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater on the scoresheet in a respectful 1-1 draw.