Laurie Cunningham

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One of the former greats of English football and probably the first of those players paving the path for black English youngsters to come through was Laurie Cunningham.

In his early days a player at Leyton Orient and shining for the O’s before moving to West Bromwich to hit it off in the top flight. He was so good that Real Madrid decided to pay £950.000 for his services.

He was an odd fellow and not a regular type of a footballer, being a bit easy living and taking life as it comes. Leyton Orient loved him, but he could be out until the morning and dance, as he liked that almost as much as playing football.

His years at West Bromwich under the management of Ron Atkinson was fantastic, but hit by many injuries during his days at Real Madrid he just played in 44 league games, did win the La Liga in 1980, in almost four years and missed on Euro’s and World Cup’s as England entered.

He did appear 6 times for England and also played in the European Cup final v. Liverpool in 1981, but had to see his Real Madrid defeated on the night. After his days with Real Madrid he moved to Marseille, and continued his career in France. He had during his time at The Bernabeu also had loan spells with Manchester United and Sporting Gijon.

Then in 1985 it all happened, Leicester had seen themselves in a bit of a struggle and to be able to sign Laurie Cunningham must have been a real scoop as Gordon Milne did get his man to Filbert Street.

The stay became short as injury trouble stopped his chance to play on a regular basis, adding up only 15 league games for the club before heading out again, this time signing for Rayo Vallecano. We all do remember Laurie Cunningham for his contribution as he made a number of great peformances to help the team avoid relegation.

After his time and return to Spain Cunningham tried his luck in Belgium with Charleroi, but after playing just one single game he was on the move again, this time to Wimbledon and during that season picking up a FA Cup winners medal coming on as a sub and getting his revenge on Liverpool.

A new return to Spain and Rayo, but during his time with the club he tragically he was killed in a car crash. A grand player and one of those special talents that you would love to watch playing day in and day out, but he was never seen as a key player during many seasons at Leicester and during his career probably not seen as one being much connected to Leicester City, absolutely one of the guys in disguise.

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Laurie Paul Cunningham
  • Position: Winger
  • Date of Birth: 08.03.1956
  • Birthplace: Archway, London, England
  • Nation: England
  • Caps / Goals: 6/0
  • Major Career:
    • 1974-77, Leyton Orient (75/15)
    • 1977-79, West Bromwich Albion (86/21)
    • 1979-84, Real Madrid (44/13)
    • 1984-85, Marseille (30/8)
    • 1985-86, Leicester City (15/0)
    • 1986-89, Rayo Vallecano (56/2)
    • 1988, Wimbledon (6/1)
  • Links: Wikipedia

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George Armstrong

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Often at the end of a career some still see you as a good player and they might think it’s still some juice left to help out in a difficult situation. Frank McLintock arrived at Leicester City in the summer of 1977, taking over from Jimmy Bloomfield, who had an aging squad with a few key players coming to a certain age.

Frank McLintock had just left QPR as a player and went back to some of his old team mates to get them to move and play for him, and leave their current clubs for minor fees. George Armstrong, a legend at Arsenal was one of those players following in the foot steps of David Webb and Eddie Kelly who had also joined their former team mate and trying to give Leicester City a lift and helping to avoid relegation.

George completed a total of 500 league games for Arsenal and of course playing in a number of European, FA Cup and League Cup games as well, being part of that special Double act team of 1970/71.  He was also part of the team that won the 1969/70 European Fairs Cup and also representing Arsenal in the 1968 and 1969 League Cup finals, ending runners-up, the same was his contribution in the 1972 FA Cup final, being defeated 1-0 by Leeds.

George Armstrong made his debut for Leicester on the 24th of September 1977, it all ended in a terrible 3-0 defeat at home to high flying Nottingham Forest, who later won the league all together. Armstrong stayed on for the rest of the season and beyond, but only included in 12 games by his “old pal” McLintock.

Armstrong was 33 at the time, and few or no one could figure out why a player at that age, signing for free would be a valuable asset for Leicester at the time, trying to replace older players with even an older one.

Armstrong stayed with Leicester also after the relegation and played 3 league games for Jock Wallace before making a switch to Stockport early on, and we never really did see the best years of a great footballer who had taken a strange path towards retirement.

George Armstrong went in to coaching and had spells in Norway and Kuwait, before returning home and becoming a key man again at Highbury working for the club in different coaching capacities until his early death at the age 56. Sadly his time at Leicester City was in a period of decline and his move was never seen as a success for one of the best wingers in the country during his 20’s. Sir Alf Ramsey never took him upstairs, and his tally of five England U.23 caps was his international bow, as it was not a priority to play with wingers under Sir Alf.

FACTFILE:

  • Full Name: George Armstrong
  • Position: Winger
  • Date of Birth: 09.08.1944
  • Birthplace: Hemel Hempstead
  • Nation: England
  • Caps / Goals: 0/0
  • Major Career:
    • 1961-77, Arsenal (500/53)
    • 1977-78, Leicester City (15/0)
    • 1978-79, Stockport County (34/0)
  • Links: Wikipedia

Cedric Kipre

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Cedric Kipre might not be much known for his time at Leicester City, never crossing the line of first team action, and moving on to other adventures. Kipre (24) joined Leicester City in  2014 and left three years after and his only chance of first team action was during a loan spell at non-league Corby Town, playing two games.

Watching Cedric Kipre developing at Leicester City was a plus as the player looked as one that could make it and get a chance to evolve, but instead he moved north to Scotland and Motherwell, settling in well and establishing himself in the first team at Fir Park. His progress alerted clubs in England and Wigan Athletic signed him in 2018.

He settled in well and progression was made and he was a force in the Wigan team with good and clever displays in Championship action. Kipre added up 70 league appearances in two years with The Latics and attracted clubs in the Premier League.

West Bromwich Albion became the next step for the Ivory Coast U.21 international, but has not yet made any impact at The Hawthorns and recently joined Belgian club Charleroi on loan this February and hopefully he will get a chance to show his skills.

Kipre is a fine example of several other recruits that has made a move to other clubs and been able to progress from their time at LCFC, being released or shown the door at Leicester City.

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Cedric Kipre
  • Position: Defender
  • Date of Birth: 09.12.1996
  • Birthplace: Paris, France
  • Nation: Ivory Coast
  • Caps / Goals: 0/0
  • Major Career:
    • 2017-18, Motherwell (36/1)
    • 2018-20, Wigan Athletic (74/2)
    • 2020 ->, West Bromwich Albion (0/0)
  • Links: 

Guys in Disguise, Jonny Hayes, from Leicester City unknown becoming a star in the SPL

Jonny Hayes didn’t set the World on fire at Leicester City, playing a modest 7 league games while with the club from 2007 and 2009. He was a player picked up on a free from Reading and seen as an exciting prospect.

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He never appeared in the Reading first team and had a couple of loan spells at Forest Green and MK Dons that was seen as success but not enough so he was released and joined Leicester City on a free.

During his days as a fox he was also loaned out to Northampton Town and Cheltenham Town adding a bit of experience to take his next step in football. A move north of the border became a salvation for the Irishman as he got the chance to flourish at the highest level.

The club he joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle were at the 2nd level in the Scottish league pyramid and with Heyes in the team they got a straight promotion to the SPL and the breakthrough was completed for Jonny, who also scored some stunning goals in the first year in the top flight, one of them against Rangers.

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A move to Aberdeen in 2012 was a new step up for Heyes and he became a key player at Pittodrie for five years playing 165 league games and scoring 23 goals. He also experienced the thrill of playing in Europe and winning the Scottish League Cup in 2014.

He had really made his steps up in football and in the summer of 2017 Celtic payed a fee of £1million to sign Hayes. He had at this time already made his full international debut for Ireland and to date been involved in four games.

Hayes is set to leave Celtic in the summer after three years with the club playing 41 league games and scoring 2 goals, winning the leauge in all his seasons, the FA Cup twice and the League Cup once. Hayes is now 32 years of age and might decide to play on in Scotland, but it’s said that a number of Championship clubs in England also could be interested.

Lovely to see players who had great potential, but didn’t fulfill their talent at Leicester City, getting a chance elsewhere and really flying on as they made a life in top flight football.

Bruno N’Gotty

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When joining Leicester City from Birmingham City, Bruno N’Gotty was in his mid 30’s and spent time as a fox from 2007 to 2009. He played 38 league games for Leicester City and even had a short loan spell with Hereford United, so life was different.

A player that had experienced what most players don’t appearing for some of the best clubs in Europe and at the same time also playing at full international level for his country. He is a winner of Serie A in Italy with AC Milan, and of course playing at the highest level almost through his full career being also at PSG, Lyon, Marseille and Bolton Wanderers were he was a pinnacle player in the Premier League days of The Trotters.

His time with Bolton Wanderers was successful playing from 2002 to 2006, adding up 148 league games and scoring 5 goals. He was one of the clubs best players in probably the best period of that clubs history.

He joined Leicester City and hopes were high that he would contribute with his presence and experience in a way that would see the club again fight for promotion, but in a turbulent period at the club it all ended in relegation as N¨Gotty career were close to finished at the age of 36, and Nigel Pearson never did see the use of his experience during that 2008-09 season though being listed at the club.

His contract expired as Leicester City again had been promoted to the the 2nd tier, but N’Gotty wandered into 6th level football in France and has since retired for the game.

Leicester City will never be the club remembered as were Bruno N’Gotty made it in football, on the contrary the almost opposite. But in the favor of Bruno, he did play well at times and helped Leicester City to a few wins during his days.

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Bruno N’Gotty
  • Position: Defender
  • Date of Birth: 10.06.1971
  • Birthplace: Lyon, France
  • Nation: France
  • Caps / Goals: 6/0
  • Major Career:
    • 1988-95, Lyon (237/13)
    • 1995-98, Paris SG (80/7)
    • 1998-00, AC Milan (30/1)
    • 2000-02, Marseille (32/0)
    • 2002-06, Bolton Wanderers (134/5)
    • 2006-07, Birmingham City (25/1)
    • 2007-09, Leicester City (38/0)
  • Links: Wikipedia

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Gokhan Inler

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Gokhan Inler was signed to fill the gap after Esteban Cambiasso, but his late arrival and the grand form of the Leicester City team made the Swizz almost redundant. A number of other players stepped forward and took the lead as Inler hardly got a look in.

He was there all season long and played the odd game during the Premier League winning season, but hardly talked about at all as N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy grabbed the headlines.

Signed for a fee of £5million from Napoli, one of the major clubs in Italian Serie A, made Inler probably the signing of the that 2015 summer that would see a possible rise in performance and hopefully save the club from relegation, but as points were picked thick and fast without Inler playing, Claudio Ranieri might have forgotten about his most experienced midfielder.

At the age of 31 of course still a lot to offer and he did play. In total Gokhan Inler played 10 first team games at Leicester, 5 in the PL, 3 in the EFL Cup and 2 in the FA Cup. A fun fact is that Inler played three times for Switzerland during that season, as many as he started in the Premier League for Leicester City.

Another fun fact is that in his 5 PL appearances he never lost, won against Aston Villa and Chelsea, drawing against Stoke, Tottenham and Manchester City.  He started the games v. Aston Villa, Man City and Stoke, coming on against Tottenham and Chelsea, so a strange scenario really but Ranieri had more faith in Drinkwater, Kante and King who also had a key role during that PL winning season.

Inler made his last caps for Switzerland as a Leicester City player, ending his tally on 89, which also included playing and captaining his country in two World Cups. He was present both in South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014. A brilliant servant to his country and chosing the Swizz instead of representing Turkey who he had played for as a youth international, being born in Switzerland with Turkish parents.

Inler had high hopes when he arrived in English football, and with his past at Napoli and Udinese every Leicester City fan thought he would be ideal for Leicester City, but what became a “fairy story” for some, might have been a “nightmare” for others, but in all he probably have enjoyed being part of that fantastic happening even if he was almost totally forgotten by most.

He was given the chance to leave after only one season and joined Besiktas, and later moved to another club in Turkey, Istanbul Besaksehir. and four years after the great PL winning season he is still in the game at 35.

He did win the league in Turkey with Besiktas, but couldn’t cement a steady place in the first team, but again picked up another trophy adding to the PL win and previous league wins in Switzerland with FC Zurich. In Italy he never experienced to win the league but has won the cup with Napoli.

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Gokhan Inler
  • Postion: Midfield
  • Date of Birth: 27.06.1984
  • Birthplace: Olten, Switzerland
  • Nation: Switzerland
  • Caps / Goals: 89/7
  • Major Career
    • 2005-2006, Aaray (25/3)
    • 2006-2007, Zurich (52/3)
    • 2007-2011, Udinese (141/6)
    • 2011-2015, Napoli (118/9)
    • 2015-2016, Leicester City (5/0)
    • 2016-2020, Istanbul Basaksehir (44/1)
    • 2020 ->, Adama Demirspor (38/1)
  • Links: 

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