Leicester City winning the Premier League trophy was at one point less likely than Elvis turning up alive.
Just as unlikely, at the start of this Premier League season, was that the club from the Midlands in the UK would become known around the world.
When the final whistle blew in the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, confirming Leicester’s title, it was 21:55 in west London, 13:55 in Los Angeles, and 03:55 on Tuesday in Bangkok.
In the five minutes after the result was confirmed, more than 493,000 tweets using the word “Leicester” were sent worldwide, hitting a peak of some 140,000 tweets in the minute right after the final whistle blew.
The true global appeal of football, and perhaps of the underdog story, was shown in the fact that cities including Sydney, Mumbai, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro were among those taking the keenest interest online in Leicester’s success.
How the win was marked
One country with an eye on the result was Thailand, even if it was confirmed there in the middle of the night.
Leicester City were taken over by Thai owners in 2010, and the stadium has been renamed after King Power, owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s travel retail firm.
The 596,000 people who like the club’s official Thai page on Facebook were in celebratory mood when the result came in. One user, Anantawat Jhansubin, replied: “Don’t forget to bring the trophy to Thailand!”
Many other Thai people writing on the Facebook page gave credit to Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan, who is revered by the club’s owners. He gave blessings to the team at the start of the season, and has created banners to pray for the club’s success.
The Bangkok newspaper The Nation reported comments by Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman’s son, that the players would visit Thailand soon, although hopefully in less controversial circumstances than last year.
“Thai people should be given a lot of credit as all players acknowledge how much support they have been given,” he said. “All players believe, so do all the Thai fans.”
He said he hoped to tie blue and yellow flags on the Premier League trophy when it is handed over – blue, as it is the club’s traditional colour, and yellow as that is the colour associated with the Thai king.
When the result came in, the rather convoluted hashtag #lahazanadeportivamasepicadelahistoria (The most epic athletic feat in history) became a trending topic in Mexico, as did #elsuenosecumplio (The dream is fulfilled).
Christian Parkinson, a BBC cameraman based in Johannesburg, is Leicester-born and a life-long fan of the club. He learned the result in mid-air on the way to South Africa.
France‘s sports newspaper L’Equipe published a detailed online segment dedicated to Leicester’s win, paying tribute to the success of “the surprise package, this well-oiled machine that has transfixed people way beyond England’s shores”.
La Gazzetto dello Sport in Italy wrote that “there is no football fan in England or outside that does not recognise the achievement of this great little club, and its Italian leader”, referring to manager Claudio Ranieri.
In India, the Times of India‘s Hijam Raju Singh wrote: “The wait for the ‘fairytale ending’ of the ‘beautiful story’ is over. The biggest underdog story in recent times has met the ending everyone was hoping for.”
Japan‘s NTV made Leicester’s win its main sports story of the day, and understandably focused heavily on the club’s Japanese international striker Shinji Okazaki and his part in Leicester’s “long-cherished wish” to win the league.
How did everyone pronounce Leicester?*
One of the largest broadcasters, TF1, failed miserably. The joy of the sports team was evident, the ability to pronounce ‘Leicester’ less so: it becomes ‘Lie-stair’, its captain Wes Morgan renamed ‘Vess’. Must try harder. Yellow card
Excellent – the team at RTVE clearly did its research. It is pronounced the right way, albeit with a Spanish flourish on the R of Leicester. 5-0 home win
La Repubblica newspaper wanted to find out, so took to the streets (you can watch the very funny results here). Some people managed to pronounce it perfectly, but it seems the consensus in Rome is that it is said ‘Lie-Chester’. Creditable 1-1 draw
NTV’s attempt was not great. Not great at all. Let’s leave it at that. Red card, own goal