Leicester’s dreams come true as fans get to enjoy club’s first FA Cup success

‘Our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them’ read the banner.

It adorned the top tier of Wembley, complete with a giant picture of Leicester’s late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Khun Vichai, who died in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in 2018, remains – as he always will – with the Foxes.

Leicester chairman Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha celebrates with fans
Leicester chairman Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha celebrates with fans (Matthew Childs/PA)

Jamie Vardy, Kasper Schmeichel and Brendan Rodgers all said they wanted to lift the trophy for him and his family who, since 2010, have taken the club to the very top.

On Saturday against Chelsea, they followed through with their desire as Youri Tielemans’ stunning winner earned Leicester a 1-0 victory, their first FA Cup triumph after four previous final defeats and wrote another chapter in the Foxes’ remarkable story.

Regardless of the result, it would be a day to tell the grandkids about and the Foxes faithful were going to make the most of it having waited 52 years since their last FA Cup final.

Starved of the club they love, supporters mingled and took selfies in front of Wembley’s arch as if the last 14 months of the coronavirus pandemic had not happened.

Leicester fans celebrate outside Wembley
Leicester fans celebrate outside Wembley (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Beer cans were scattered on the floor just off Wembley Way and one fan wandered around with the obligatory – yet well-crafted – tinfoil trophy.

It was a refreshing reminder of the normality once taken for granted as the Foxes’ fans tried to suck up every last breath of the day, not knowing if this would be their only chance.

Inside, the clubs had an equal allocation of 6,250 but the Foxes somehow managed to make it look like they outnumbered their rivals.

Scarfs bearing Khun Vichai’s name were lifted into the air during Abide With Me while the club’s motto Foxes Never Quit also decked out the stadium’s top tier.

The fans, passionate, excited and nervous, brought the sense of pantomime back to the occasion.

They traded light-hearted barbs with Chelsea supporters and jeered the opposition as the old and classic chants reverberated around Wembley.

Yet the players were booed for taking a knee and, although it is impossible to say where it came from, it still showed the foolishness of some.

The Foxes praised Jonny Evans when he was forced off in the first half, with the defender saluting them to underline the bond which the players have desperately missed.

Jonny Evans applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch through injury
Jonny Evans applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch through injury (Matt Childs/PA)

Leicester’s subdued first half kept the anxiety levels high as those in the stands kicked every ball but they began to find their voice after the break.

Their team had begun to threaten and when Tielemans lined up a shot from 25 yards they held their breath.

For a moment there was silence before pandemonium gripped the Leicester end once the midfielder’s effort screamed into the top corner.

The players piled into their supporters as history beckoned. It was a goal – and celebration – fitting to welcome the fans back.

Leicester players and fans celebrate Youri Tielemans' strike
Leicester players and fans celebrate Youri Tielemans’ strike (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

If those celebrations were bonkers they only intensified when VAR ruled out Ben Chilwell’s late equaliser. It was lauded like a second goal.

In that moment the Foxes fans knew the trophy was theirs. At the final whistle they greeted their players like heroes and chanted Khun Vichai’s name with his son, Aiyawatt, visibly emotional.

Rodgers was thrown into the air by the squad, James Maddison collected his medal with a smile which suggested he could not quite believe it.

When Kasper Schmeichel and Wes Morgan lifted the trophy, they did with such enthusiasm the lid flew off. Aiyawatt came from the stands to have his moment and saluted the picture of his father while with the cup.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is thrown in the air by his players
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is thrown in the air by his players (Matthew Childs/PA)

If the Foxes could have stayed in that moment they would have.

In 1969, when Leicester lost their last final 1-0 to Manchester City, they returned to the league for the final five games and were relegated from the First Division by a point.

This time, the Foxes – and their fans – have seen their dreams come true.