Leicester Mercury

The FA Cup has been in my house a few times!


- By JORDAN BLACKWELL jordan.blackwell@reachplc.com @jrdnblackw­ell

KASPER Schmeichel is in the unique position of having had the FA Cup trophy in his house without ever having won it himself.

His dad Peter, right, was a threetime winner with Manchester United in the 1990s, and so while this is the Leicester City goalkeeper’s first taste of a final, it won’t be alien to him if he gets to hoist the grand old trophy aloft at full-time today.

While many players’ memories of watching the FA Cup as a youngster are of sitting in front of the television, Schmeichel was not only at Wembley, but travelled with the team too.

“I obviously followed Man United and my father in the FA Cup and the FA Cup was always a special occasion because, more often than not, they did reach the FA Cup final. And more often they did win it as well,” said Schmeichel.

“So it was always an end-of-season treat going down to Wembley on the train and usually coming back with the players and the trophy.

“The trophy has been in my house a few times, so I’m familiar with it!

“It’s something we dreamed of winning. So to have the chance to do that is great because of the history of it.

“Think back to the people who have lifted that trophy, it’s amazing to write yourself into that history.”

If City are victorious and

Schmeichel does get his hands on the trophy, he will not only be parading in front of more than 6,000 City fans, but in front of the club’s chairman too.

Aiyawatt Srivaddhan­aprabha has flown in from Thailand for the runin, and amid the debate surroundin­g foreign owners and their disconnect from supporters as well as staff, Schmeichel believes Top and his family are exceptions.

“He’s obviously been away for a long, long time,” said Schmeichel .

“With all the restrictio­ns he hasn’t been able to be here when we moved into the new training ground and took these big steps.

“But for him to be allowed to come to the final and be with the boys during the build-up has been great. His presence here is always felt and we missed having the family around.

“I think it’s been special for them as well to see the training ground in person.

Obviously the plans have been in place for many years and I think they’ve had Facetimes and pictures sent through but it’s never the same as actually seeing it. So it’s special all round that he’s been able to get back.

“They are just good people. It just goes to show in this time where there’s a lot of unhappines­s about club ownership, there’s also a time to see how good foreign ownership can be. The journey from when the family came in and bought this club is testament to that.

“They have shown commitment right from the start and all the way through to today where we stand in a FA Cup final and a facility that is probably the best in England if not the world in terms of football training.

“They keep investing in the club, they keep building that bond with the fans – I know we can’t have fans yet which I am looking forward to, but there has always been a sense from the fans that they are heard and looked after and most importantl­y they are appreciate­d.” There has been a hunger among the class of 2016 to fill up the trophy cabinet further since the Premier League title success, and now they are within touching distance of doing so.

While winning the FA Cup would bring joy and memories to fans and players alike, it is not needed as proof of the direction the club is heading.

“I don’t think we need to have a trophy to show as evidence of the progress we’re making but it would be very nice to have it,” said Schmeichel.

“It just shows again that the club have been able to come through difficult times and still compete, still be at a level where we are mixing it with the so-called big boys. We’re trying to establish ourselves as a club that’s going to be challengin­g for trophies and challengin­g at the top of the table for a long time to come.

“The infrastruc­ture is in place, we have one of the best managers around and lots of young and exciting talent, so the future is very, very bright.

“It’s not a necessity but it would be very welcome to have the FA Cup.

“I think undoubtedl­y the club is in a fantastic position.

“It’s always going to be difficult for a club like Leicester to go and break into the so-called big six but here we are again trying, working really really hard and doing everything we can.

“Whether it can be in my playing time that we’ll be considered in those conversati­ons or if it will be 10 to 15 years down the line, what I do know is the commitment to progressio­n and the commitment to excellence is there.

“I don’t have any doubt with the leadership we have that Leicester will be considered one of the top clubs in the country.”

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