Leicester’s Best Five Players of All Time

So many players have donned the Leicester colours during the club’s long history but there are a handful of footballers that really stand out from the rest. These players can rightly be considered among the best to have ever represented the club due to their ability and contribution.

For many clubs, a top-five list like this would likely see players dotted throughout the club’s history. In Leicester’s case though there are a trio of names that were pivotal in their 2016 Premier League title win. This seems justified though given that this is the Foxes’ sole top-division success and these three men were particularly outstanding. So much so in fact that they all featured in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, a feat only five Leicester players have ever managed.

Gordon Banks (1959-1967)

Gordon Banks
Photo thanks to LCFC.com

The first person on our list played long before the Premier League era. Although best known for being the man between the sticks during England’s World Cup 1966 triumph, the Sheffield-born keeper spent much of his club career at Leicester. During an eight-season stay, Banks made 356 appearances for the Foxes, quite the return on a player that only cost £7,000.

There simply had to be room for Banks on this list not only because of his quality but because of how many great displays he put in for the club. The man with 73 international caps is widely regarded as one of the best keepers of the 21st century. On six occasions he was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year and he was also named in the PFA Team of the Century. Some of these accolades did come while playing for Stoke, the club he moved to after Leicester, but they still emphasise what a quality goalkeeper he was.

In terms of team trophies, Leicester have not won an abundance of silverware but Banks did help guide them to a League Cup win in 1964. The former Chesterfield man featured across both legs of the final, which ended 4-3 on aggregate in favour of the Foxes.

Keith Weller (1971-1978)

Keith Weller
Photo thanks to LCFC.com

Keith Weller only managed four international appearances for England but this paints a misleading picture of his ability. Any Foxes supporter who had the pleasure of watching him play would tell you that he was one of the most gifted players to ever grace Filbert Street, the club’s old home. It was not as though he had the benefit of facing lower-league opponents either. Leicester signed him from Chelsea after securing promotion to Division 1 and he only left the year the Foxes were relegated.

During his substantial stay at the club, during which he made 305 appearances, Weller’s skill and flair produced some truly memorable moments. From his hat-trick against Liverpool in 1972 to his sensational solo effort against Luton in the FA Cup, the US-born player could get you off your seat. He was particularly adept at ghosting past his man and riding tackles, with the ball often looking like it was glued to his foot. For all the good memories though, let it not be forgotten he was once temporarily transfer-listed (and fined) for refusing to return to the pitch during a clash with Ipswich Town.

Jamie Vardy (2012-)

Jamie Vardy
Vardy, left (@cfcunofficial | Wikipedia)

As well as being a Leicester legend for making 450+ appearances, Jamie Vardy is also one of the best players the club has ever had. Prior to joining the Foxes, then in the Championship, Vardy was plying his trade in the fifth tier of English football for Fleetwood Town. Although prolific at this level, very few players have so successfully made such a giant leap up.

Vardy was not an instant hit at Premier League level, scoring just five goals in 34 appearances during Leicester’s return to the top of the English footballing ladder. The next season saw a different Vardy though, one that netted 24 times, a tally matched by Sergio Aguero, as he very narrowly missed out on the Golden Boot. Fast, direct and clinical, the Sheffield-born striker was consistently a major handful for defenders, especially those playing a higher line.

Although Vardy never managed to improve on this incredible season he did manage to register 15+ goals in six Premier League seasons and 20+ on three occasions. These are truly elite figures especially given that Leicester were regularly not one of the strongest teams in the division. He may have bloomed a little too late to be remembered as one of the league’s true greats but he does stand alongside the likes of Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah as recipients of the FAW Football of the Year award.

Riyad Mahrez (2014-2018)

Riyad Mahrez up close
Clément Bucco-Lechat | Wikipedia

For decades it had been the consensus that Weller was the most technically gifted and skilful player to have played for the club. Now, most Leicester fans will tell you that this label should instead go to Riyad Mahrez. Signed from Le Havre, while Leicester were in the Championship, the Algerian proved to be an unbelievable bargain at a mere £450,000.

People close to Mahrez had demonstrated concern that English football would not suit his style but manager Nigel Pearson only needed to see five substitute appearances before putting Mahrez in the starting XI. Despite his slim build, Mahrez adapted more than well to the challenges of both the Championship and Premier League. It was in the 2015-16 season that we really saw what the left-footed magician was capable of though. Ending the title-winning campaign with 17 goals and 11 assists, Mahrez deservedly claimed the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.

Months later the right winger found himself nominated for the Ballon d’Or, where he finished a very impressive seventh, behind Gareth Bale and Neymar. With his quality incredibly apparent by this point, many clubs wished to acquire the services of the Algerian. Several bids were rejected but eventually, he secured a £60m move to Man City, making him the most expensive African footballer ever at the time.

N’Golo Kante (2015-16)

N'Golo Kante
Кирилл Венедиктов | Wikipedia

It may seem a little strange having someone who played just 40 times for Leicester on this list but what a 40 games it was. Arguably the most integral part of Leicester’s title-winning season, N’Golo Kante was truly world-class during the entire campaign. Nothing much was made of his €8m transfer from French outfit Caen but very quickly Leicester fans realised what a true gem they had on their hands.

That season Kante made 177 tackles in the league, 31 more than Idrissa Gueye in second place. We do not have the stats for distance covered but we would be shocked if he did not top this too. When watching any Leicester game the Frenchman seemed to cover every blade of grass, constantly harassing and dispossessing opposition players. Capped 53 times for France, Kante is one of very few unquestionably world-class players Leicester have ever had.

Despite his incredible ability, Leicester sold Kante after the title-winning season for just £32m where he went on to make 269 appearances. He was also a key part of France’s World Cup-winning squad of 2018.

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