Leicester City 2015/16 is part of 90min's 20 Greatest Teams of the Decade series.


​As punters scrolled through betting websites ahead of the 2015/16 season, some saw Leicester City were 5000/1 to win the Premier League title, and had a cheeky flutter.


That fateful decision changed lives as the Foxes defied all odds, defied all sense and logic, to win their maiden English crown. Ridiculous profits were made for the lucky few - including 'Forrest Gump' star Tom Hanks (apparently) - who'd chosen to take a chance on Claudio Ranieri's side.

Claudio Ranieri

Nevertheless, no amount of money can match the value of ​Leicester's triumph. It created unforgettable memories, made dreams a reality, and left the entire country dumbfounded. This is the tale of the single greatest shock in English footballing history.


The Midlanders had finished 14th the year before, their first season back in the top flight. Despite what their final placing may suggest, they'd looked dead and buried at the start of April, having been rooted to the bottom of the table for over four months.


A run of seven wins from their last nine ​Premier League fixtures saw Leicester climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since the autumn, though it didn't save manager Nigel Pearson as he was replaced by Ranieri in the summer.


The decision baffled many, but it proved a masterstroke, with the Italian securing 12 points from his opening six top-flight fixtures at the Leicester helm. It took until late September for the Foxes to fall, ​Arsenal the team to hand the new coach his first taste of defeat.

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An Alexis Sanchez hat-trick had given the Gunners a convincing 5-2 triumph at the King Power Stadium. After being taught a footballing lesson at their own ground, many assumed the bubble had burst, and Ranieri's promising start would soon come to an end.


Similar assumptions were made throughout the season. People thought a lack of squad depth would ultimately derail Leicester's title tilt. Pundits claimed that the pressure would get to them, and they'd crumble. Everyone was sure they would come up short.


Even when we reached Christmas with the Foxes still top of the pile, viewers doubted their credentials, and talked up the chances of powerhouse clubs. We were adamant that ​Manchester City, Arsenal, or ​Tottenham Hotspur would eventually topple Ranieri and his recruits.


Of that trio - who filled the rest of the top four at the end of the year - only the Gunners had overcome Leicester by the midway point of the campaign. Both City and Spurs had left the King Power with a draw, having come up against a side fuelled by confidence and momentum.

Several stars of that team have gone on to become household names in England, though there were three standouts under Ranieri, three key men who catapulted the Foxes from relegation fodder to champions elect.


The goalscoring exploits of Jamie Vardy were enormous in the Midlanders securing first place by the turn of the year. Leading the Leicester attacking, the striker could not be contained, his electric pace and razor-sharp finishing helping the side steal points at the most opportune of times.


In November, he broke the Premier League record for goals scored in consecutive games, the Englishman notching versus ​Manchester United to bring his scoring streak to 11 straight top-flight matches.


Without his blistering form, Leicester would have been held by teams like ​West Bromwich Albion or ​Crystal Palace. Instead, he secured crucial victories that kept the Foxes ahead of the chasing pack, and ensured belief didn't seep from the squad.

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Vardy may have been the one tucking away chances, but it was Riyad Mahrez who'd been carving out the opportunities for the striker, the Algerian's trickery and guile causing endless problems for opponents.


He went on to collect the PFA Players' Player of the Year award following a mesmerising campaign for Leicester City. 


Meanwhile, the Foxes' backline was shielded by N'Golo Kante, arguably the most accomplished holding midfielder the Premier League has ever seen. As Mahrez and Vardy dazzled defenders, the Frenchman dispossessed opponents, and brought attacks to an abrupt halt.


It took just €8m to bring him across the English Channel from Caen, a side in the second tier of French football. Fast forward a few years, and you'd be lucky to buy him for ten times the price, such has been Kante's impact on these shores.

Ngolo Kante

Led by three prodigious talents on top of their game, Leicester made it to February with just two defeats all season, having been narrowly beaten at Anfield on Boxing Day. And yet, pundits still doubted their ability to seal a remarkable title victory.


Opinions began to change after they'd rocked up to the Etihad Stadium in round 25, and left City reeling. A sublime solo effort from Mahrez, combined with two Robert Huth headers, had seen the Foxes put the Sky Blues to the sword - they now had to be taken seriously.


The realisation that Leicester could, indeed, go all the way came too late for most of the 'Big Six'. ​Chelsea, United, and ​Liverpool were nowhere to be seen, and City were starting to stumble. Only Spurs and Arsenal offered a genuine threat to the Foxes' dream.


With a five-point lead and 13 games left to play, Ranieri took his men to the Emirates Stadium for a showdown with Arsene Wenger and his Gunners side. 

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Vardy gave the visitors the lead at the Emirates Stadium, but they were undone by Theo Walcott's second-half leveller, and a 95th-minute Danny Welbeck effort. Would they finally start to unravel? No chance.


It was Arsenal who began to drift away, while Leicester would win six of their next seven games following the loss in north London. 


The last of those victories came on Wearside as Vardy - ably assisted by Danny Drinkwater - struck twice to down relegation-battling Sunderland. There were just five fixtures remaining, and now Tottenham were all that stood between the Foxes and immortality.


Mauricio Pochettino had worked diligently to keep the Lilywhites in contention, whereas many of his counterparts had been hampered by off-field issues. 


Ahead of matchweek 34, Spurs trailed Leicester by seven points. No one else was within ten of the leaders, though they allowed Tottenham to close the gap to five, despite Leonardo Ulloa's injury-time penalty rescuing a point for the Foxes at home to ​West Ham United.


Nerves could have crept in and ruined everything, right when it mattered most. But, Ranieri and his boys had steel and resolve, and bounced back thanks to a virtuoso display from Mahrez against ​Swansea City, their talisman inspiring them to a 4-0 win.


One day later, Spurs drew at White Hart Lane, with West Brom's Craig Dawson scoring at both ends to put Leicester on the brink of greatness. All they had to do was take three points from their final three matches.


The first was bagged at Old Trafford as Foxes captain Wes Morgan headed in to hold the Red Devils. In doing so, he heaped the pressure on Tottenham, who faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge the following Monday.

Wes Morgan

Heung-min Son and Harry Kane put the Lilywhites two goals to the good in west London. With Leicester playing ​Everton and the Blues in rounds 37 and 38, the title race was very much on.


However, Gary Cahill reduced the deficit soon after the restart, before Eden Hazard's delightful curling effort bent beyond Hugo Lloris and soared into the top corner. The Bridge erupted as Spurs players collapsed to the floor. It was all over.


A 2-2 draw guaranteed Leicester City would rule England for the first time in their history, with the King Power pitch covered in confetti as the Foxes heroes walked out for their last home match of the campaign.


In fitting fashion, Vardy struck twice against Everton in a 3-1 win for the hosts, but the result was irrelevant. The celebrations were spectacular, with Ranieri inviting fellow Italian Andrea Bocelli to join in.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house as he hailed Leicester's achievement, the opera singer serenading the crowd with his dulcet tones. 


Bocelli's performance was a reflection of the Foxes' own display in 2015/16. He oozed class and elegance, demonstrated power and assurance, and captured the imaginations of all in attendance. 


It was a beautiful end to a beautiful year in Leicester's history.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter


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