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15 things that have happened since Leicester City last played in Europe

LC
Leicester City footballers en route to their Champions League qualification
Rudranil Guha Roy

Leicester City, under their new manager, Claudio Ranieri witnessed a sensational Barclays Premier League season this year which is nothing short of a fairytale. The Foxes were deserted at the bottom of the league table for almost four and a half months back in 2014-15 and no one, quite rightly, gave them half a decent chance at the start of the 2015-16 season.

However, propelled by the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Claudio Ranieri's men took the so-called big guns of English football by utter surprise as they are currently on the verge of clinching the first Premier League title in the history of the club.

The King Power Stadium-based club is currently on top of the Premier League table, five points ahead of the second-placed Tottenham Hotspur with four more matches to go. Only time will tell whether they can end their sensational 2015-16 season on a high.

Having said that, one thing is for sure. Claudio Ranieri's side will be competing in the UEFA Champions League in the 2016-17 season. The Foxes will be returning to Europe after a wait of 16 long years.

Leicester City last played in a European competition back in 2000, when they were eliminated from the first round of the Europa Cup after a 2-4 aggregate loss at the hands of Red Star Belgrade.

Here is a list of 15 things that have happened since Leicester last played in Europe:

1) Asia and Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup

2002
The 2002 FIFA World Cup logo and mascots

2002 and 2010 were two of the most significant years in the history of world football. South Korea and Japan hosted the first ever FIFA World Cup that was held outside Europe and the two Americas. A star-studded Brazilian team defeated its German counterpart in the final match of the tournament to clinch the coveted trophy for a record 5th time.

Soon after, in 2010, the rainbow nation of South Africa became the first and only country till date to host the FIFA World Cup.

2) Arsenal achieved an impossible feat

Arsenal
The ‘Invincible’ Arsenal team celebrates after winning the Premiership

The Gunners under their manager, Arsene Wenger achieved a nearly impossible feat in the history of world football back in 2003-04. Also known as 'The Season of the Invincibles', Arsenal finished the 2003-04 Barclays Premier League season at the top of the league table without losing a single league match.

Arsene Wenger’s men ended the season with a phenomenal statistic of 38-26-12-0-90.

3) The fall of Leeds United

Leeds
A dejected set of Leeds United footballers

Leeds United was once a power to reckon with until their relegation from the top-flight English football back in 2003-04. Having won three English First Division titles, Leeds United was one of the most consistent top-table teams in the history of English Premier League.

However, the club had to sell most of its top players at the start of the 2003-04 season due to the high debts that it had accumulated over the years. As a result, Leeds was relegated to the second division after 14 consecutive years in top-flight English football.

4) The rise of Chelsea and Manchester City

Chelsea Trophy
Chelsea footballers celebrate their 2014-15 Premier League triumph

Chelsea and Manchester City were once considered as pushover clubs in English football. However, their fortunes started to change for the better over the course of the millennium.

The Russian business magnate, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea back in 2003 and ever since 2004-05, silverwares started to pour in the London-based club. Since 2004-05, Chelsea has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields and one UEFA Champions League.

Manchester City, too, has undergone a lot of success in the recent years since Sheikh Khaldoon Al Mubarak took over the proceedings of the club back in 2008.

5) Arsenal left Highbury for the Emirates

Highbury
An aerial view of The Emirates Stadium with Highbury in the foreground

Highbury is one of the most iconic stadiums in the history of English football. The 60,000-seater stadium hosted the club's home matches from September 1913 to May 2006. In 2000, the club officials had proposed building a new 60,361-seater Emirates Stadium due to a number of developmental restrictions in Highbury.

Arsenal played its first league match at the Emirates Stadium against Aston Villa which ended at 1-1.

6) The Spanish national side emerged as a force to reckon with

Spain
Spain became a force to reckon with in world football.

Vicente del Bosque was appointed as the head coach of the Spanish national side back in 2008. Soon after, La Furia Roja became a force to reckon with in world football. Spain went on to win a couple of UEFA European Championships (2008 and 2012) and a FIFA World Cup (2010) over a period of just four years.

Although del Bosque’s men crashed out in the first round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, they are still one of the favourites to clinch the 2016 UEFA Euro that is to be held in France.

7) The inception of the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry

Messi Ronaldo
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in action against each other

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are, undoubtedly, two of the most iconic footballers that the world has witnessed in recent years. The inception of their rivalry started in 2009, when Real Madrid purchased the Portugal international from Manchester United for a world record transfer fee of 80 million pounds.

Lionel Messi had established himself at Barcelona by that time since his debut for the Nou Camp-based side, back in 2004. Both the footballers were household names when Ronaldo first arrived in Spain and they were playing in two of the biggest clubs in the world.

The stage was set and to be honest, neither of them has disappointed us until now.

8) Manchester United overtook Liverpool in number of English league titles

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Sir Alex Ferguson kisses the Premier League trophy

Sir Alex Ferguson had once said, “My greatest challenge is not what's happening at the moment (2002-03 Premier League title race), my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f*****g perch. And you can print that.”

And that is what the 74-year-old Scott actually did when his team clinched the English First Division title for a record 19th time, back in 2010-11. The Old Trafford-based side went on to win the Premiership once again in 2012-13.

9) The rise of Borussia Dortmund as a European superpower

Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund footballers with the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal

Borussia Dortmund unveiled Jurgen Klopp as the club’s new manager on 1 July 2008 and just within a couple of years the German manager transformed Dortmund into a European powerhouse.

After a string of mediocre seasons, Dortmund clinched their first Bundesliga title after a gap of eight years. In a league which is highly dominated by a club like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund sealed their second consecutive Bundesliga title in 2011-12 despite a poor start to the season.

Moreover, Jurgen Klopp’s side finished as the runners-up in the 2012-13 season of the UEFA Champions League. Although Borussia Dortmund lost the final match of the coveted competition to Bayern Munich by 1-2, they had successfully won the hearts of the billions of football lovers all over the globe.

10) Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football management

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Sir Alex Ferguson transformed Manchester United into a legacy

Sir Alex Ferguson is, without a shade of doubt, one of the best football managers that the world has ever seen. After having managed a number of football clubs like East Stirlingshire, St. Mirren and Aberdeen, the Scottish manager took charge of Manchester United back in 1986.

A man of genius, Ferguson had won 13 Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Community Shields and a couple of UEFA Champions League among other silverwares during his stay at the Old Trafford-based club.

The 74-year-old Scott who had transformed Manchester United into a fortress, a legacy, retired from professional football management in 2013.

11) ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ retired from professional football

Class of 92
‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ celebrate a goal

Sir Alex Ferguson along with his assistant coaches, Brian Kidd, and Eric Harrison embarked on a significant football development campaign that changed the course of Manchester United forever.

In the 1990s, Ferguson trained and developed a number of young, promising footballers like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt amongst others, who went on to become some of the most iconic players in the history of the club.

After having won innumerable silverwares for a number of clubs including (and mostly) Manchester United, the ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ retired from professional football in the period between 2011 and 2014.

12) The end of Sepp Blatter’s reign at FIFA

Blatter
Sepp Blatter was charged of corruption and banned after that

The 80-year-old Swiss football administrator, Sepp Blatter was the eighth and the third-longest serving president in the history of FIFA. He served the organisation in the capacity of a president from 8 June 1988 to 26 February 2016.

Although in a certain way, he was able to increase the influence of football in the Asian and the African countries, Blatter was later charged with corruption, money laundering and financial mismanagement.

Later, upon investigation in October 2015, Sepp Blatter along with other FIFA officials were suspended and later banned from the organisation for a period of six years.

13) Chelsea sacked 10 managers

Mourinho
Jose Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea last December

Since 2000-01, the London-based club has sacked a total of ten football managers. The Russian business magnate, Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea back in 2003 and quite (un)surprisingly, the Blues has sacked all of their ten managers with Abramovich at the helm.

Infact, quite interestingly, the first scapegoat who had fallen a victim of the wrath of Abramovich was the current Leicester City manager, Claudio Ranieri.

14) Iceland and Wales qualified for their first ever Euro

Wales
The Welsh footballers celebrate their triumph

Iceland and Wales have qualified for their maiden UEFA European Championship that is set to happen in France, later this year. Iceland was pitted in one of the toughest groups of the qualifying competition and has stunned the likes of Turkey and the Netherlands to finish second in Group A just after the Czech Republic.

Wales, on the other hand, had no problem either as they went on to win 6 of their 10 qualifying matches to finish second as well in a relatively easy Group B.

15) Zinedine Zidane became a football manager

Zidane
Zinedine Zidane during an UEFA Champions League fixture

The former French international and football legend, Zinedine Zidane was appointed as the manager of Real Madrid on 4 January 2016, after the club dismissed the service of Rafa Benitez.

In his first league match as the manager of Los Blancos, the club defeated Deportivo La Coruna by a massive margin of 5-0.

Edited by Staff Editor

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