The date was May 25th 1992. The stage was set at the Wembley stadium for Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers to face each other in the Championship play-off with the chance to win a place in the inaugural FA Premier League.
The match did not go in favour of Leicester as Blackburn clinched the game with a first-half goal from striker Mike Newell. The victory meant that Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers were promoted to the brand new world of Premier League football, while Brian Little’s Leicester City had no choice but to stay behind in the second-tier.
Leicester had to wait two years for their next chance and this time, they did not falter as they defeated East Midlands rivals Derby County 2–1 to secure promotion to the Premiership for the 1994-95 season after seven years outside the top division. Coincidentally, that was the same season when Blackburn went on to lift the trophy after finishing at the top of the table by just one point.
Twenty one years have passed since that season and at present, Leicester City are the favourities to clinch the Premier League title after defeating title contenders Manchester City 3-1 on Saturday.
The Foxes have showed great potential for the most part of the season and if they can maintain the same form till the end of the season, they would create history by becoming the first club outside of Manchester or London to have ever won the Premier League title since Blackburn Rovers in 1995.
The story of the Blackburn side which won the league in 1995 has since become a part of football folklore and if facts are to be believed, Leicester City’s fairytale run is remarkably similar to the Rovers.
The biggest similarity between the two sides is the rags to riches story which is common for both of them as they made their way into the top-flight of English football.
Leicester City’s current chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club in 2010 when it was struggling in the third-tier of England and with the help of his finances and support, the team was able to gain promotion in 2014. After Leicester’s promotion, the Thai billionaire announced that he will be spending £180m in order to make the Foxes a top five team within three years.
Similarly, Blackburn Rovers were caught up in a relegation battle in Division Two when industrialist Jack Walker bought the club in 1991 and within three years of taking charge, he appointed Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as the team’s manager and broke the British transfer record twice to acquire the signatures of British forwards Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer.
However, the biggest similarity between the two sides is the presence of a powerful English striker in the squad whose form is pivotal to the team’s title aspirations.
Alan Shearer was the pick of the forwards in the 1994-95 season as he went on to score 34 goals for Blackburn – a record which remains unbroken till this date. Along with Chris Sutton, he formed a lethal partnership which paved the way for their club’s success.
The same trend can be seen in the Leicester team as Jamie Vardy leads the goal-scoring stats with 18 goals in the season so far and his pairing with Algerian footballer Riyad Mahrez has been the dominant force behind the Foxes’ title charge this season.
The two sides also share a connection when it comes to the appointment of experienced non-English managers who had already proven their mettle in the English Premier League.
Leicester’s current boss Claudio Ranieri tasted success with various clubs in Europe and the Frenchman was in charge of Chelsea when Roman Abramovich took over the club.
There was a huge influx of money into the team, but Ranieri showed confidence in youngsters as he signed youngster Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Petr Cech and also handed the captain’s armband to John Terry.
The story was somewhat similar for Blackburn as they appointed Kenny Dalglish in 1991 as their manager after he guided Liverpool to two league titles and his young Blackburn side gave him his third English title as a manager.
Thus, the connection between Leicester City of 2015-16 season and the league winning side of Blackburn Rovers of 1994-95 is quite similar on various fronts, but only time will tell whether the fate of the two teams will also be similar.