Steve Walsh are among the most legendary players ever to have appeared in blue and white. His presence was colossal and he made impact from the start, playing for the club in three different decades.
As far back as 1995 he was the longest serving player at the club and he continued for another five years before calling it a day in the start of the 00/01 season just a few weeks after Peter Taylor had taken charge.
When Martin O’Neill left the club, Steve Walsh and Tony Cottee were seen as a duo to take over, but the board turned it down and instead went for the Gillingham boss, and it might have been the start to the end for Walshy when Peter Taylor knew he had a player in his squad that wanted his job.
An enigmatic player across his 14 years at Filbert Street., to the extent it is difficult to decide precisely which Steve Walsh to attempt to describe. The rugged stopper or the swash buckling striker? The coolly commanding captain captain or the reckless recipient of the red carded. The red rag to Steve Bull, or the man who led the Rams to slaughter…?
Steve followed Bryan Hamilton from Wigan Athletic as the new managers initial City purchase, justifying his £100.000 fee as a strapping central defender by deposing the unsettled John O’Neill in the First Division line-up. But even in his first term he was alternating the promise of becoming an aerially dominant influence with moments of naive impetuosity which cost his relegation bound side dearly.
Steve’s first 2nd division game for City ended with his (second) dismissal for a vicious assault on Shrewsbury’s David Geddis, which eventually earned him an eleven game ban, but he returnend with a apparently much more mature outlook, developing his defensive timing and positioning and began to show himself additionally as a useful goalscorer. Indeed.
Steve took the Player of the Year award in 1988 to index his rehabilitation, but ill luck with injuries hampered his progress the following term. He remained at the heart of the defensive formation of each of David Pleat, Gordon Lee and Brian Little (skippering the side under the latter boss despite three dimissals in 1990/91 and two more early in 1992/93), until Little then gambled on shifting him forward into a muscular target man role, to which he adapted with enthusiasm and no little effectiveness. Steve became the 15 goal top marksman of 1993 (at one point scoirng in five successive victories) as a second play-off final came into view, and he contributed an additional Wembley goal to the exciting fightback against Swindon, to help earn memories of the penalty he’d unluckily conceded against Blackburn’s David Speedie the year before.
It was a further year on at Wembley, though, that Steve’s true glory would come, with the two goals against Derby County that finally lifted Leicester City into the Premier League coming after he’d missed the bulk of the season following a horrendous knee ligament injury injury at Middlebrough. Further knee trouble completely ruined Steve’s top-flight campaign, but with fitness regained there are now further question marks for Steve and Mark McGhee to juggle with, not least attaching to the genuine dilemma of whether he is of most use to the side as a rugged defensive cornerstone or an inspirational attacking totem. The season ended in a relegation, but Steve became a key player in the next seasons to come.
Firstly he had great impact during the fight back to regain a place in the Premier League, but had to see McGhee and a certain Martin O’Neill arrive. MON kept Walsh in the team and he captained the side in the first years under the new man.
His presence was clear and MON kept him as captain as he leaded the team on to EFL Cup glory in 1996/97 and helping Leicester City establish themselves as a top tier outfit for the next five years. He captained the team out also in his 2nd EFL Cup final, but had to see a defeat, losing that final to Tottenham Hotspur in 1999.