Former Leicester striker Gary Lineker has said the club’s push to win the Premier League this season “defies logic” and put the team on the threshold of “sporting immortality”.
Having only narrowly avoided relegation from the lucrative English top flight last season, the Midlands club were 5,000/1 with several British bookmakers to be crowned champions this term.
Yet Claudio Ranieri’s men have defied those odds in spectacular style and will have a five-point lead at the top of the table, with just eight matches remaining, if they beat basement club Newcastle on Monday.
For ex-England international Lineker, a lifelong Foxes fan, the fact that Leicester, who’ve never won the English title, are leading the likes of bigger-spending rivals such as fourth-placed Manchester City, Manchester United and reigning champions Chelsea at this stage of the season, is staggering.
“Something extraordinary is happening in the world of football,” the 55-year-old Leicester-born Lineker, now a BBC television football presenter, wrote in Monday’s Guardian newspaper.
“Something that defies logic. Something truly magical. Something that makes me well up with emotion because this something is happening to my team.
“Nothing compares to this. Nothing,” he added.
When Leicester appointed Ranieri in succession to sacked manager Nigel Pearson before the start of this season, Lineker was unimpressed by the Italian’s credentials.
“I felt it was pretty uninspired choice. In his previous job he managed a Greek National side that lost to the Faroe Islands…Oh how wrong I was, how wonderfully, spectacularly, blissfully wrong.”
Lineker, who has promised to present the BBC’s flagship Match of the Day football programme in his underwear if Leicester are crowned champions, added: “What we are witnessing, should Leicester go on to win the title, is quite possibly the most unlikely triumph in the history of team sport.
“A collection of individuals who couldn’t win a football match for love nor money a year ago have turned into an invincible force…All beautifully held together by the canny, inspirational –- yes, inspirational -– Tinkerman,” he said in a reference to the disparaging nickname Ranieri received during a brief spell in charge of Chelsea.
“I don’t think I have ever wanted something to happen more in sport in my entire life.
“The pressure will mount with every passing week. With expectation comes danger. They have, though, shown no fear thus far. No sign of wavering under the magnitude of what they might achieve. They are on the edge of sporting immortality.”