FA Cup like a family heirloom to Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As a child Kasper Schmeichel could have mistaken the FA Cup for a shiny heirloom. The final represented an annual family jamboree that sometimes ended with the trophy being paraded around his house. His dad, Peter, won it three times with Manchester United. Young Kasper dreamed of winning it himself one day.

On Saturday, at the age of 34, he will lead Leicester out at Wembley in the hope of fulfilling the ambition he has long nurtured, though not quite as long as Leicester, who yearn to get their hands on the Cup in their 137th year of trying.

“My story might be slightly different to others,” says Schmeichel. “I obviously followed Manchester United and my father in the FA Cup and it was always a special occasion because, more often than not, they did reach the final. 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.

Related: FA Cup final and Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

“I think all my dad’s trophies and medals are in the Manchester United museum now but that trophy has been in my house a few times, so I’m familiar with it. But I always dreamed of being in the final myself so to be there is amazing. Now I want to make it the real dream ending.”

Schmeichel has, of course, already enjoyed success with Leicester, being one of two players, along with Jamie Vardy, still starting consistently for the club five years after sensationally winning the Premier League. But he says there is something different about the way the club are doing things now. Leicester “skipped a few steps” by winning the title in 2016, according to Schmeichel, whereas Saturday’s final is the fruit of more meticulous growth, and that will be true even if Chelsea beat them.

“The journey we’ve been on is an interesting one, it’s probably a journey of self-discovery more than anything, trying to find out what kind of team we are and what kind of identity do we have,” he says.

Peter Schmeichel with the FA Cup in 1999
Kasper’s father Peter Schmeichel with the FA Cup in 1999. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“I think one of the massive turning points has been Brendan coming in [in February 2019] and giving us that clear identity, that focus and direction and leadership that really sets the club up for future success. Maybe before we were still trying to find out if we were a counterattacking side, a possession side, or something in between and we didn’t know if we were coming or going at times. That led to inconsistencies but now we see two seasons in a row competing near the top of the league and trying to get into finals.

“Last year we lost out in the Carabao Cup to Aston Villa in the semis and that hurt a lot and that’s something we’ve brought with us, we’ve learned a lot from that. We keep learning and keep progressing and that’s the headline of what Leicester has been doing in the last five years.”

That merits underlining, although the goalkeeper says he pays no heed to the “bottlers” counter-argument that tends to be aired whenever Leicester lose an important match towards the business end of the season, as they did last year or, indeed, last week in the Premier League against Newcastle.

“If we’d lost to Newcastle in the fourth game of the season, would people be using those kinds of terms? No. It’s just because it’s at the end of the season that people say this, that and the other. Listen, you can lose games quite simply, and you can lose finals. That’s the reality of football. I don’t think anybody really pays attention to what’s said on the outside because it’s very easy to throw terms like that about and they’re not going to help us.”

Related: Leicester ‘very positive’ Jonny Evans will be fit for FA Cup final

Schmeichel is keen to stress the positive relationship Leicester’’s staff and fans enjoy with the club’s Thai owner at a time when supporters of other clubs are mutinous. “They are just good people,” says Schmeichel of the Srivaddhanaprabha family. “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 a testament to that. They keep investing in the club, they keep building that bond with the fans.”

Leicester, then, is a happy club. And confidence is high that even better times lie ahead, no matter what happens at Wembley. “[Getting to the final] 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. We don’t need to win the trophy to show as evidence of the progress we’re making. But it would be very nice to have it.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting