One of my most favorite sports movies is Hoosiers. The story of a small, relatively unknown school marching all the way to the Indiana high school basketball state finals and winning has a certain appeal to it. Defying all the odds with so-called "experts" and fans laughing in your face must be a great feeling.
But it's what was said before the State Championship game in the locker room that was more poignant for me. When Coach Norm Dale asks his team if they have anything to say, the first sentiment that comes to mind from one of the players is to "win this one for all the small schools that didn't have a chance to get here."
Fast forward to 2016. Leicester City, 5000-to-1 long shots for a Barclay's Premier League title. A striker who was told he could never compete at this level because he was "too small." An Algerian midfielder who was voted the best player in the league, beating out multi-million dollar super stars. A lost-cause manager brought in to lead a group of upstarts. A club, that has never tasted victory or even this type of success before.
The Foxes may be underdogs, but they carry the hope of a city, a nation, and the entire world. In an era of football dominated by money and the power it brings, Leicester City has proven that the value of teamwork, determination, and humility is still able to pave the path to success.
And now, on Sunday, Leicester travels to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in a game of destiny. 13-time Premier League champions and one of the richest clubs in the world. Although they aren't in title contention this season, they meet Leicester in a championship game of sorts.
The last time a trophy was lifted at Old Trafford was under bifocal-wielding, soft-spoken manager Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013. Now, a man with similar characteristics and eyeglasses named Claudio Ranieri has a chance to do the same thing in the same place. Only this time, it won't be United lifting the silverware, but rather a team who was thought to be destined for relegation at the start of the season.
David vs. Goliath, Leicester vs. Manchester United. Before their game against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics, USA Hockey coach Herb Brooks knew his team of upstarts had what it takes to win against a team dubbed "unbeatable." Brooks told his team, "Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world...This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em! This is your time! Now go out there and take it."
If that doesn't make you want to run through a dozen brick walls, I don't know what will. The same can be said about Leicester. I'm personally sick and tired of hearing about how great Manchester United is. In the words of Herb Brooks, "Screw 'em!" This is Leicester's time. This is Leicester's year. The only thing standing in the Foxes way is themselves.
Sunday, Leicester have a chance to achieve greatness. How amazing would it be to do it against Manchester United. It's almost destiny. The passing of the torch. From a team that has basked in their history to a team that is ready to start writing their own history.
So Leicester City, you've got just one more task. On Sunday, three points win you a title. You carry the hopes and dreams of millions on your backs.
Go out there on Sunday, and win it for yourselves. Win it for Leicester. Win it for all the non-league clubs that dream of being at the precipice of English football. Win it for all the pundits who laughed in your face. But most importantly, just go out there and take it.
Good Luck Leicester. Keep daring to dream.