A legend among American soccer fans, Kasey Keller enjoyed a lengthy playing career, primarily in Europe. One of his stops in the old continent was at Leicester City from 1996-1999, a very productive period for club and player alike.
Kasey Keller interview
Kasey Keller interview
Enjoying successful top half finishes in the Premier League as well as a famous League Cup victory, Keller is remembered fondly in Leicester for his impressive shot-stopping ability and Stateside charm...and of course his lovely flowing locks.
Now retired, Keller returned to the U.S. to finish his career with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer, his local club and currently acts as their TV commentator.
In an exclusive discussion with the Fosse Posse, Keller reflects on his time in Leicester and what this season has meant for the club and the city he once called home. Part II of the talk to come your way next week.
Fosse Posse: What are your overall impressions of what we've seen with Leicester City this season?
Kasey Keller: It's unprecedented. All you have to do is look at the history of the Premier League. You have a couple teams who have emerged but they've emerged because they've been able to spend a whole lot of money. I'm referring to clubs with a 'bit' of the history--the Chelseas, the Man Citys. Even Blackburn Rovers back in the back in the day who were able to win the championship. I think Blackburn is the last club that did it in a completely different way, they did it with a very wealthy owner investing a lot of money. They set the trend in a lot of ways.
It's a complete boost to the arm for any league that can show a team can come out of nowhere and be challenging and be the front-runner to win the title this late in the season. I think a lot of times in sports it's a common situation where you have a group of heavy spenders trading off winning championships and this gives hope to everyone else out there that if lightning strikes you might be able to do it as well.
FP: For you personally, when and if, did you start to believe the title was a possibility?
Keller: After Christmas. So often you see smaller squads and the busy Christmas schedule reset expectations. Playing clubs a second time...there's no more surprise, people have seen what you have to offer. What's amazing for me is the dichotomy of the Leicester season. The first half of the season was about scoring a lot of goals, but conceding goals and finding ways to play games 3-2, coming back to win 2-1, late draws. Where in the second half of the season, it's been all about 1-0 wins. I think we've seen a lot teams in the past, that score tons of goals but couldn't keep it tight in the back and to somehow see a club be able to change throughout the season and still find ways to win, it's remarkable, absolutely remarkable.
To think of where Leicester is in the pay scale of the PL and what the transfer budget has been, it's just unprecedented.
FP: What's been the biggest contributing factor thus far this season?
Keller: A couple things. You need players to emerge that nobody thought were going to become the players they've become. You've seen that with a couple Leicester players, not just the obvious two, but guys like Danny Drinkwater and Marc Albrighton. Also the leadership from the back; to have Robert Huth and Wes Morgan be able to contribute by scoring goals. Everything just doesn't go through [Riyad] Mahrez and [Jamie] Vardy, that you're able to score off of set pieces, but not having to rely on them completely. It's a phenomenal balance, tremendous work rate, they can also win off of possessions and counter-attacking. We've seen teams, and I've played for those teams, that are battling for good mid-table respectability, don't get sucked into a relegation fight. Usually you're kind of one-dimensional. Maybe you're a hard working counter-attack team or you defend well, but you know you're really dangerous off of set pieces. Leicester has shown they are able to play; able to play good teams, grind results out, score off set pieces and been able to dominate possession and maybe not create as many goal scoring chances.
They've found ways to get the results in a multitude of different ways, which for me is even more unbelievable. That would normally be a team with an unlimited budget that are able to do that because they have so many different assets available to them because of the 45-player professional squad they have at their disposal. I think those are the components that have really surprised me.
FP: Talk about your perception of Leicester the city and why is it so special to play there?
Keller: Leicester was always kind of looked as a city, in the shadow of Nottingham and in the even bigger shadow of Birmingham. It's a city that's not the most beautiful compared to others around. But it's a city that just loves their club. Enough clubs around there that you could claim to support someone else...but that's not the case. You're from the greater Leicester area, you are a Leicester City fan and that really shows. You realize very quickly that sense of community. When you play for a London club, those lines aren't as distinct and it gets blurred very quickly.
You can follow Kasey on Twitter @KaseyKeller18.