Against The Odds To Champion: Kasper Schmeichel

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“You’re doing well, you’ll never be as good as your dad, though,” influential shot-stopper Kasper Schmeichel was informed by a fan prior to Leicester City’s 3-0 demolition of Swansea back in December 2015, following the club’s unbelievable start to the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.

1463554026_01_05192608_e3a1d7_2781973aThose sort of comments have followed Schmeichel throughout his life, and while they may be somewhat unsavoury, they are completely understandable. Kasper’s father, Peter Schmeichel, is one of the greatest goalkeepers to have graced the game, having turned out for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United throughout the 1990s.

During his time at the club he picked up five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, a Champions League and a UEFA Super Cup. However, his greatest achievement came at the 1992 European Championship, where Denmark navigated past England, France, the Netherlands and Germany to clinch the cup, pulling off one of the biggest shocks in soccer history. Yet, Leicester City’s unexpected 2015/16 Premier League title victory undoubtedly tops Denmark’s Euro 1992 win.

Until recently, Kasper had achieved very little to convince fans that he was anything more than a shadow of his father. However, his part in the Foxes’ fairytale season earns him the right to be remembered as much more than ‘Peter Schmeichel’s son’.

The Danish goalkeeper started his soccer career at Manchester City back in 2002, while his father was finishing up his career at the club. Despite making his first senior appearance in 2007, as well as six more throughout the 2007/08 campaign, Schmeichel wouldn’t make the cut at the Etihad.

Five loan spells later, and with Joe Hart emerging as the long-term number one, Schmeichel was ready to quit the emerging club. The summer of 2009 saw the shot-stopper reunited with the man that had given him his break at Manchester City, Sven-Goran Eriksson, who had taken over as Director of Football League Two side Notts County.

His single season at the club was phenomenal, with Notts County eventually finishing the season as clear winners of the league, achieving promotion to League One. With just 31 goals conceded and more than 50% of their matches resulting in clean sheets, Schmeichel was certainly a big influence. However, with the club struggling to pay his £15,000-a-week wages, the talented keeper agreed to waive any compensation and depart on a free transfer, much to the dismay of the fans.

After a season with Leeds United in the Championship, Schmeichel reluctantly agreed to join Leicester City – a decision which would eventually prove to be one of the best that he ever made. The move once again saw him link up with former boss Eriksson, as the club sought promotion to the Premier League. Despite a shaky start to the season, which saw Eriksson replaced with former boss Nigel Pearson, the club earned a respectable 9th place finish, with Schmeichel’s performances picking up as time went on.

1463554029_Kasper-SchmeichelBy the 2013/14 season, Schmeichel had been watched by scouts from some of the world’s biggest clubs, including Arsenal, Manchester United and Serie A giants AC Milan, while Leicester had also continued to progress. With 18 clean sheets to his name, Schmeichel proved crucial in securing the club’s promotion with six games still to play.

The club’s return to the Premier League would be somewhat disappointing. By late March, they had won just four matches throughout the season and had been sitting at the foot of the table since November. With relegation straight back down to the Championship all but confirmed, Schmeichel’s return from injury going into April would prompt a miraculous turn of form. Seven victories in their final nine matches would secure their safety and set them up for an unbelievable
2015/16 season.

With failed Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri taking over from Pearson during the off-season, following a disastrous spell with the Greece national team, the vast majority of football fans believed the axe would finally fall on The Foxes. However, Leicester City picked up where they had left off, snatching points left, right and centre. By January the club had taken control of the top spot and would hold on to it until the very end of the campaign, despite the constant belief that they would topple.

By clinching the Premier League trophy, Peter and Kasper Schmeichel became the only biological father and son duo to win the top flight title. Yet, despite the similarities that it has uncovered, it has also ensured that Kasper will be remembered as so much more than ‘Peter Schmeichel’s son, the one who was never quite as good as his old man’.

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