Book Review: The Unbelievables - the remarkable rise of Leicester City
David Bevan's book on Leicester City's 2015-16 Premier League winning season, told through the eyes of fans who follow the team through thick and thin.11 July 2016 | FT Editor
At the beginning of April 2015, Leicester City were at the foot of the Premier League and heading back to the Championship from which they had been promoted only the previous season.
Remarkably, they managed to win seven and draw one of their last nine games of the season to survive in the Premier League, with their only loss in this period was to Chelsea. Despite the Houdini act, manager Nigel Pearson was shown the door to be replaced by former Chelsea, Juventus and Roma manager, Claudio Ranieri. His only job? To make sure they survived in the Premier League.
Bookies installed Leicester City as one of the favourites to be relegated and priced them at 5000:1 to win the Premiership. In an extraordinary 13-month turnaround, they became Premier League champions on 2 May with two matches to spare.
The season made stars of Jamie Vardy, Algerian Riyad Mahrez and Frenchman N’golo Kante, and also revealed a team of unsung heroes such as captain Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater, Shinji Okazaki, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Danny Simpson and Leonard Ulloa. The fact that so many names roll off the top of the mind when thinking about Leicester City today is testament to the manager who moulded them into the proverbial ‘champion team’ – Ranieri.
But we all know that story.
The Unbelievables by David Bevan is the story of Leicester City’s 2015-16 season. It chronicles every match of the season through the eyes of some of those who followed their team up and down the country, and from afar, for 38 remarkable weeks. Those who are given a voice range from the man Bevan refers to as the ‘Messiah’, Martin O’Neill, club legend Emile Heskey, England’s U18 women’s coach Fran Gamble, journalists who are lifelong City fans and fans in the stands and elsewhere such as Jason Becker from Manhattan and Glenn Bradbury from Australia.
Also included is the match that handed Leicester City the title – when an out-of-form Chelsea drew with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on 2 May.
For Leicester City fans, this book is a no brainer. You’ve got to have it. Don’t even hesitate.
For anyone else? If you love football, if you love the whole idea of a smaller team punching above its weight, love a champion team as opposed to a team of champions, and you love a fairytale, The Unbelievables is a charming addition to your shelves of football books. David Bevan takes you to every match, lets you feel the tension, and experience the joy and the sheer ‘unbelievability’ of it all.
The cover pages of The Unbelievables also include some stunning illustrations of Morgan, Vardy and Mahrez by Dave Williams.
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