3 min read
It’s being hailed as the most remarkable story in the history of soccer.
This time last year, Leicester City Football Club were at the bottom of England’s premier Soccer League. They were a few games away from being demoted to the lower division, if not for a last minute miracle. They got that miracle -- they won their remaining games and that was the beginning of turning their fate around. By the skin of their teeth, they avoided being demoted to the lower leagues and managed to keep their place among the country’s elite teams. They fired their manager and brought in a new one with renewed hope.
At the start of this season, they were seen as the worst team in the league and bookmakers had them at 5000:1 to win the English soccer league. Leicester’s manager, Claudio Ranieri, was the bookies’ favorite to lose his job first this season. This week, Leicester City was incredibly crowned champions of the Premier League, leaving the bookmakers making reported pay-outs of more than £20 million.
This has been the most remarkable story of a team who went from imminent demotion to champions of the league. So unprecedented is this fairy tale, many media outlets are calling it the most remarkable story in the history of soccer!
One such remarkable story is that of player Jamie Vardy, who at the age of 29 is coming to the end of his professional career. A few years ago he was a virtually unknown player, playing part time while doing back-breaking labor in a factory. This year he has been named one of the players of the season, as well as earning his place in the England international team, and signing a new contract worth millions.
His rags-to-riches story, which has Hollywood wanting to create a movie about his life, encapsulates the theme of the Leicester team itself. A club which has barely won any trophies or competitions, and was last place in the table just a few months ago, have won the title. This is like the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup.
How did Leicester achieve such amazing success, and with no real superstar players on their team? There is much speculation. Some credit the manager. Some put it down to the game plan. Others say it’s due to the unity of the players.
What is the lesson for us?
How often do we feel that we just want to give up? How often do we doubt our abilities when comparing ourselves to those around us? How often do we let others dictate our own self-perception?
Leicester did not let the bookies inform their own self-belief. They did not let the commentators define their potential. They did not let their past performance affect what they believed they could achieve. They worked together. They worked hard. And they worked consistently.
At this time, with the miracles of Passover behind us, this could be a reminder, that miracles are still possible today. We will be soon celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's day of independence. Has there been a greater miracle than the establishment of the one and only Jewish state? No bookie would have even given 5000:1 odds to that after two exiles!
As Jews we must never forget that we have those very same tools for success that led Leicester to win: a manager, a game plan, and unity. God is the ultimate Manager of the world. Our game plan is the Torah. And the unity of the Jewish people is unparalleled in all of human history.
When we recognize God as the Source of all miracles, we will find that anything is possible.
Mazel tov Leicester!