I’m sitting in my apartment on a very sunny Seattle Saturday with nothing to do. I fire up the old Xbox machine and load FIFA17. To my Leicester City career I go.
I’m three seasons in to a very good run for the Foxes. I’ve built the club into something of a European powerhouse while abiding by all the fairest rules and settings even the most devout FIFA player would be alright with. No complaints.
The squad has grown with the higher priced players have come in and the youth academy producing some quality young talent. Top of the league, blah blah blah. Things are clicking on all cylinders.
Then in a Champions League match during a particularly nasty injury spell, I was short in the center of midfield. Like three hobbled players and a suspension short. The struggle, as they say, was real.
But then there he was. At the bottom of my bench. Scarcely used. Smiling as ever. Ready to jump into the starting lineup and do a job. And I had no qualms whatsoever about putting him on my team sheet.
Andrew Philip King.
Why was Andy King, a middling FIFA contributor at best, still in my squad of young stars and established top tier talent past the turn of the decade?
Well, Internet, I simply just cannot quit Andy King.
It’s hard to say what it is about that little Welsh scamp that leads me to, not once, in all my years of playing that video game, sell him. Or that I have three of his jerseys hanging in my closet. Or that I see him among the club’s all-time greats. But there is just something.
He’s everything that’s right about Leicester City Football Club and one could argue, the modern game.
Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but King is a fabulous servant of the club/country and has continued to gain respect and admiration of his peers.
He normally plays well. He can score nice goals. He puts in a shift. He’s dedicated. He’s got that team-first mentality. He’s a champion at multiple levels. And you know what else? He’s just an all-around nice guy. Every interview he’s in, the 28-year-old comes off as a humble, thoughtful and well-balanced young man who genuinely cares about what he does and the performance of his team.
I make no bones about my appreciation for Andy King. He has been a constant in my life as a sports fan for 10+ years. I’m picky about the athletes I decide worthy of my praise. King has earned it.
Never the most flashy or overly-impressive player, he has had a knack for being involved and a necessary part of team success at practically every spell of his career.
His goal-scoring record is also quite good...and also very fun to watch.
Not too bad for a guy at the end of my virtual bench.
What you like even more about King is the fact that he’s never really, truly been first choice for Leicester. The 10 or so(!) managers that he’s played under have for the most part, tried to bring in a player of better quality to patrol the middle of the park. They’ve tried to see a reason to let him move on from the club and enter a new chapter of his career. It’s just never happened.
He’s stuck around on merit and hard work and presumably will continue to do so because every team needs an Andy King. Not every one has their own, but you better believe they are jealous of our boys in blue. He’s that guy you want representing your club for over a decade.
So Andy, if you’re reading this (I know you are), I just wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for always being there...through Leicester’s good times (and they’ve been good) and the bad (oh, were they bad) but also for making the club better because of it. You’re a rare sparkling gem in this world of greedy, mercenary football that wouldn’t know club loyalty to this extent if it came up and smacked it in the face.
Rest easy knowing that you could direct yourself to the King Power Stadium with your eyes closed while standing on your head and because it’ll probably be the only stadium you’ll ever need to know how to find.
From League One to the Champions League, it’s been some ride. Here’s to another 10 years of The King.