Kasper Schmeichel's world-class save only way to surpass brilliance of Youri Tielemans' winner

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Kasper Schmeichel's world-class save only way to surpass brilliance of winner - GETTY IMAGES
Kasper Schmeichel's world-class save only way to surpass brilliance of winner - GETTY IMAGES

Foxes never quit. And there was no way that Kasper Schmeichel was not going to get his hands on the FA Cup.

It was a world-class goal that won them the trophy but it was a world-class save that ensured they did.

When Youri Tielemans’ struck such a wonderful shot into the Chelsea net it felt nothing would surpass it. It had to be the story of Leicester’s first FA Cup win in their 137-history.

But that was before Schmeichel’s save. It is not that he has been in the shadow of his illustrious goalkeeping father, Peter, but if ever he was then he certainly is no more.

Schmeichel’s stop from Mason Mount will go down as one of the greatest ever made in an FA Cup Final. And that is no exaggeration. You only had to look at Mount’s face to realise how remarkable it was.

The ball was crossed into the Leicester penalty area by Reece James with Wes Morgan, under pressure, winning the header only for it to fall to Mount who struck it first-time on the volley as it dropped. It was fierce; it even went through the legs of Wesley Fofana as he desperately tried to block. Just how much of it did Schmeichel really see? It did not matter as he fully extended to his left to push the ball away one-handed for a corner.

Mount held his head. He was not the only one. So did Leicester’s James Maddison because he, like the rest of us, believed the shot would beat Schmeichel. But the Leicester captain was having none of it. Mount’s face said it all. He looked simply stunned; disbelieving. It did not take a mind-reader. How did that not go in? The England international could not have struck it sweeter and yet Leicester were still ahead.

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It felt so appropriate that Schmeichel played his part. He had already superbly denied Ben Chilwell, scooping away his header and he survived the heart in the mouth moment in the final seconds when Chelsea had the ball in the net — off the unfortunate Morgan — only for it to be ruled out by the tightest of offside calls after a Var review.

Maybe it was destiny. In their first FA Cup Final in 52 years, only the fifth in their history, Leicester were the story once again and just as he had been in their glorious Premier League-winning campaign Schmeichel was at the heart of it.

At the final whistle, he dropped to the turf before getting to his knees in near disbelief. Then he was everywhere, hugging and celebrating with his team-mates. The tears followed. The celebrations felt special.

This is not to detract from Chelsea but, maybe, it felt better that Leicester won in a season when their opponents were part of the despicable plan to be part of the breakaway European Super League. Yes, Schmeichel has pedigree but he has worked his way up. It was not that long ago that the 34-year-old was building his career down at Notts County having failed to make it at Manchester City.

And no Leicester player was closer than Schmeichel to the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in the King Power helicopter tragedy. As the goalkeeper raised the trophy there was a huge banner high in the Wembley stands with a photo of Kun Vichai with the quote: “Our dreams can come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Kasper Schmeichel's world-class save only way to surpass brilliance of winner - PA
Kasper Schmeichel's world-class save only way to surpass brilliance of winner - PA

To complete the picture it was Schmeichel who raced over to coax Kun Vichai’s son ‘Top’ to run onto the pitch and join the celebrations.

On the morning of the final Schmeichel had spoken about how coming down for the FA Cup Final had almost been an annual family event when his father, Peter, played for Manchester United, triumphing three times. Kasper was desperate to win it himself one day and has now done so.

“I want to make it the dream ending,” he said and he has. Not just that but he created his own iconic Wembley moment with that save. Surely that is what the cup is all about?

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