Whitecaps marvel at ‘unbelievable’ Leicester City title

Vancouver Whitecaps' head coach Carl Robinson looks on from the sideline during MLS soccer action in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

VANCOUVER — Carl Robinson couldn’t wait for a reporter to finish his question about Leicester City’s improbable run to the English Premier League title before interjecting.

"Unbelievable," the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps blurted out. "I don’t think it will happen in football again, in any league again.

"It probably still hasn’t sunk in for me and I’m on the other side of the world."

Leicester, a team that came close to getting relegated from the Premier League last season, was crowned champion of England for the first time in its 132-year history this week when second-place Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea left the leaders with an insurmountable seven-point advantage at the top of the standings.

"There’s arguably 10 teams, or maybe even more, that have got better squads than Leicester City — on paper," said Robinson. "What’s paper? Paper’s there for being ripped up. I think Leicester have shown an example of spirit, togetherness, fight, desire, what it means to play for your football club.

"It’s a fairy tale. It really is. It’s one that should be remembered and will be remembered for many, many years to come."

Robinson, who played for a number of smaller teams in England before joining Major League Soccer, said Leicester demonstrated that a squad with a fraction of the payroll of the sport’s giants can compete and even triumph when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

"The team must always come first," said the Welshman. "If you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and work as hard as you possibly can, sometimes that outdoes individual talent."

Robinson’s players also watched in awe as a 5000-1 longshot to win the title toppled some of the biggest clubs in the world.

"It’s a perfect example: hard work pays off," said Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted. "Leicester might not have the best players in England, but they have the hardest working team in England."

Ousted added that the Whitecaps, who entered the season with high expectations, but have stumbled to a 3-5-2 start and have just one victory over their last six outings, could learn a thing or two from Leicester.

"If you have talent that’s one thing, but you still need hard work," he said. "Hard work is hopefully what puts you over the top."

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