Marc Albrighton was on the brink of quitting Leicester City before the greatest chapter in the club’s history.
Albrighton has established himself as a fans’ favourite at the King Power Stadium for his part in the Great Escape and the Premier League title triumph.
But the 30-year-old winger has explained how close he came to giving up on his Foxes career before it even got started.
Speaking to Birmingham Live’s Claret & Blue podcast, the fomer Aston Villa star lifted the lid on his first few months with Leicester.
Albrighton was snapped up by Nigel Pearson in the summer of 2014 after being released by his boyhood club, but it took him a while to get going.
“The first year I got injured in the last pre-season game, pulled my groin,” he explains.
“I was out for three weeks with that. After that, the team was pretty much standard for the rest of the season, up until the last nine games.
“I never got a look-in in the slightest. I was probably looking at moving at the end of the season.
“I was coming home saying to my family, ‘I can’t do this any more’.
“I wasn’t even travelling, and I hadn’t done that since when I was younger at Villa and I thought ‘I haven’t signed here for this’. I couldn’t believe it.”
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It all changed for Albrighton and for Leicester when he came on as a half time substitute for Rhiad Mahrez in a 2-1 home win over West Ham on April 4 2015.
The Foxes seemed to be relegation certainties at that time but having forced his way into the team Albrighton never looked back, starting the final eight games as Pearson’s me pulled off an amazing rescue act.
“I got back in for the last nine games,” he remembers. “Bear in mind we were well adrift at the time. We were losing every week, and I couldn’t believe I wasn’t getting a look-in.
“I felt like I was doing well in training, and he changed it up for the last nine games. There were a few things that got changed and we ended up having a change in fortunes and stayed up.”
Despite his early wobble, Albrighton is loving being part of soemthing special at Leicester, going from Villa outcast to Premier League winner and Champions League footballer.
He credits the Foxes with helping him overcoming the crushing disappointment of being offloaded by the club he supports by making him feel wanted.
“I certainly made the right decision,” he smiles. “There were three or four clubs – I won’t name them – that I could’ve gone to.
“There were a couple who were changing their managers at the time. One of them didn’t even have a manager, so it was someone else there who wanted me and I didn’t really buy into that.
“I wanted to be wanted by a manager. I looked at Leicester, and it was the stability they had there, which I felt was for the long-term. The players they had there were my kind of players.
“They wanted to work hard for each other. It was the best move I could’ve hoped for.”
Albrighton acknowledges that a fresh start at Leicester gave him a new lease of life and kickstarted his career at a time when complaceny was setting in at Villa.
“As upset as I was to have left Villa, them not offering me a contract was the best thing that’s happened to me,” he admits.
“Anything that was on the table, whether it be a one-year deal, pay-as-you-play, I would’ve signed it because that was my club. That was my life. Aston Villa was my life from when I was young.
“I’d probably say I was getting a bit complacent, and I never really pushed on like I could have. I’m not just blaming other people for that, it was down to me as well. I never really kicked on as much as I should have.
“I was always known as the kid from the youth team at Villa, that’s how I felt. When I went to Leicester, I was a signing, someone they’d bought. Somebody along the way had gone, ‘I like Marc Albrighton, let’s sign Marc Albrighton’, that sat well with me.”
Albrighton has got back into action with a start in the 1- Premier League draw at Watford and a substitute appearance in the FA Cup quarter final defeat at home to Chelsea.
It has been strangle coping with the surreal situation of Covid19 lockdown, but represents just the latest twist in an eventful Leicester career for the wideman.
“In the six years I’ve been here, the “Great Escape” was the first year, we won the league in the second year, we played Champions League in the third year, the fourth year was a bit of a nothing happened year, but Craig Shakespeare got sacked so there was still some drama in there, the fifth year was Vichai’s helicopter, he had his helicopter crash and sadly passed away and now the sixth year, this is all happening.
“So, since I’ve been here, it’s been very up and down, more ups than downs, but certainly some sad downs. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.”
Given the way his first few months at Leicester panned out, he would never envisage winning the Premier League, but there’s actually a momento more special to him than his medal.
“We got a medal on the day we were presented with the trophy, but the club gave us a miniature Premier League trophy,” he adds.
“That’s downstairs and that does take pride in our house. I prefer to look at that than the medal. It’s a replica and that’s more special to me, I’d say.”