Have Leicester Ever Won a European Trophy?

Leicester City famously shocked football by winning the Premier League title in 2015/16, they won the FA Cup for the first and only time in 2020/21 and they’ve landed the League Cup three times (1963/64, 1996/97 and 1999/2000). But have the Foxes ever won a trophy on the continent? In this article, we’ll answer that question and delve into Leicester’s various European adventures that began way back in 1961/62 with a tilt at the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Before we get into the details of the Foxes’ forays into Europe, let’s first answer the question of the article: no, Leicester City have never won a European trophy. That includes the UEFA-sanctioned tournaments such as the Champions League and Europa League, but also the (now defunct) lesser tournament they’ve competed in, the Anglo-Italian Cup.

Leicester City’s Record in Europe

So Leicester have never won anything in Europe, but how close have they come to conquering the continent? Well, not very close, until their most recent attempt. We’ll get to that shortly, but first let’s take a look at Leicester’s overall record in major European competitions.

Competition Pld W D L GF GA GD
European Cup Winners’ Cup 4 2 1 1 8 5 3
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League 18 6 5 7 29 26 3
UEFA Champions League 10 5 2 3 11 10 1
UEFA Europa Conference League 8 4 2 2 10 5 5
Total 40 17 10 13 58 46 12

From their 40 matches in European competitions (excluding the Anglo-Italian, et cetera), Leicester have won more than they’ve lost. In addition, they’ve scored more goals than they’ve conceded. Their win percentage of 42.5% is not appalling (given that Manchester United’s European win percentage is only about 10% better at 53.3%), but it’s hard to win any tournament without winning more than half your games.

Now we’ve had the overall statistical picture of Leicester in Europe, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific tournaments and discover, in most cases, what went wrong.

Champions League Brings Highly Respectable Showing

UEFA Champions League logoAfter their incredible triumph in the Premier League, the Foxes earned the right to play Champions League football in 2016/17. Few expected them to prosper but they won five games, as per the table above, and made it through to the quarter finals.

Leicester escaped Group G and, in fact, finished top of the pile, ahead of Porto, Copenhagen and Brugge. They lost just one game and gave their fans some really memorable nights. In the round of 6 more was to come as they saw off Seville 3-2 before another Spanish team – who had been their nemesis in the past – Atletico Madrid eliminated them over two legs, 2-1.

Leicester’s First European Tournament – European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1961/62

UEFA European Cup Winners' Cup logoLeicester’s first foray into European football came in the 1961/62 European Cup Winners’ Cup… and they didn’t even need to win a cup to qualify! The Foxes lost the 1961 FA Cup 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur. But Spurs also won the league and hence qualified for the more prestigious European Cup. This handed the Cup Winners’ Cup spot to Leicester, who faced Northern Irish side Glenavon in the preliminary round.

The Foxes made short work of Glenavon, beating them 4-1 away and 3-1 at home to set up a tasty first-round match against Spanish side Atletico Madrid. The Spaniards were ultimately too strong for Leicester, despite the Foxes holding their own in the first leg.

In fact, Leicester were just a minute away from securing a 1-0 home victory in the opener, Ken Keyworth’s 56th minute goal looking like the winner. That’s until Atletico’s Mendoca popped up in the 89th minute with the equaliser.

Things weren’t as close in the second leg in Madrid as the home side ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Enrique Collar and Miguel Jones. The Madrid side went on to win the tournament, beating Italian side Fiorentina in the final after a replay.

UEFA Cup Disappointments – 1997/98 and 2000/01

UEFA Cup trophies
Yury Dmitrienko | Bigstockphoto

If we ignore the Anglo-Italian Cup (as most people did even when it was running!), Leicester had to wait more than 35 years for their next attempt at European success. After winning the League Cup in 1996/97 under the guidance of Martin O’Neill, who won the European Cup twice as a player, the Foxes gained a spot in the following season’s UEFA Cup (the forerunner to the Europa League).

And the side Leicester were drawn against in the first round? That’s right, Atletico Madrid! Once again, the Spanish side got the better of the Foxes, and so they should have with their team packed full of world-beating stars including Kiko, Christian Vieri and Brazilian ace, Juninho.

Atletico won the first leg in Madrid 2-1, with Juninho and Vieri getting the goals for the home side after the ever so slightly less glamorous Ian Marshall opened the scoring for the visitors. Juninho was on the scoresheet again in the second leg, and Kiko also made his mark as Atletico won 2-0 in Leicester. This time the Madrid side couldn’t win the tournament and lost out in the semis to Lazio.

Three years later it was a similar story for the Foxes in the UEFA Cup as they were once again eliminated at the first round stage. They faced Red Star Belgrade and they got off to the worst possible start in the opening leg as they conceded on home soil after just two minutes. To their credit, Leicester – then managed by Peter Taylor – got themselves back into the game and a Gerry Taggart equaliser meant it ended 1-1.

Due to security risks in Serbia at the time, the second leg was played in Vienna, Austria, but Belgrade won 3-1 thanks to a brace from Goran Drulić and a goal from Ivan Gvozdenović. Red Star were eliminated in the next round and the tournament was won by Liverpool who beat Spanish side Alaves 5-4 after an extra-time golden goal!

Europa League Attempts and Failures – 2020/21 and 2021/22

UEFA Europa League logoLeicester finished fifth in the Premier League in 2019/20 under Brendan Rodgers and thus qualified for the next season’s Europa League. The Foxes acquitted themselves well in the group stage, topping their group ahead of Portuguese side Braga to progress to the knockout phase. Unfortunately, that’s where their journey ended as they went down 2-0 on aggregate to Czech team, Slavia Prague.

The following season, after winning the FA Cup, Leicester were back in the Europa League. This time, drawn into a tough group alongside Spartak Moscow, Napoli and Legia Warsaw, the Foxes only managed a third-place finish. The consolation prize, however, was that they parachuted into UEFA’s newest tournament: the Europa Conference League.

A Chance of (Relative) Glory in the Europa Conference League – 2021/22

Europa Conference League logoAfter joining Europe’s third-best competition, Leicester had to play a knockout round play-off against Danish side Randers for the chance of making it to the Round of 16. A 7-2 aggregate victory saw them through and then an impressive 3-2 aggregate triumph over French team Rennes put them into the quarters. Could this be Leicester’s time to shine on the continent?

The Foxes faced former European Cup and UEFA Cup winners PSV Eindhoven next, and after a grinding 0-0 draw in the opening leg at the King Power, there was all to play for in the second leg. PSV took a first-half lead, however, and Rodgers’ men had a mountain to climb. But climb it they did as James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira scored to send Leicester through to the semis.

Alas, this is where it ended for the Foxes, as Italian giants Roma earned a 1-1 draw in the East Midlands and then edged a 1-0 triumph in the Italian capital. So the semis is as far as Leicester have managed in a major European competition, and it looks like it could be a while before they get as good a chance to win their first European trophy.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Beast Blog by Crimson Themes.