Wes Morgan looks out onto the very pitch where, exactly a year ago, he lifted the FA Cup in his final moments as a Leicester City player.
‘It is great to be out here,’ the former Leicester captain tells Sportsmail in an interview high in the stands at Wembley Stadium.
‘I remember all the emotions from that day and can picture the moment when it happened…Youri getting the ball out of his feet and scoring, the ball going into the top corner….’
Morgan’s voice trails off as he recollects one of the best days in Leicester’s history. Tielemans’ wonder goal was enough to beat Chelsea and hand the club their first-ever FA Cup, just five years after their stunning Premier League title win.
Wes Morgan is the most recent captain to lift the FA Cup after Leicester beat Chelsea in 2021
The ex-Foxes skipper was back at Wembley this week as part of the FA’s 150-year celebrations
The Jamaican international almost didn’t make it to Wembley. Morgan’s 2020-21 season was dogged by injury but he won his race against time to feature in the final, coming on as a substitute with eight minutes to go as Leicester sought to see out victory.
‘From January I was out for most of the season with a back issue and I knew – it hadn’t been officially announced – that it was going to be my last season,’ Morgan says.
‘I was pushing hard to make a return and play the final couple of games before I hung up my boots. I got myself in a fit enough state to be involved in the FA Cup final squad, which I was delighted about as I wasn’t sure I was going to make it onto the bench.
‘I made it onto the bench, which I was absolutely buzzing about, and I was just so happy to be involved, especially after being out for so long and because it was the final.
Morgan came off the bench late on in the 2021 final as Leicester beat Chelsea at Wembley
It was Morgan’s last appearance in a Leicester shirt as he ended his Foxes career in style
‘It went one better, getting onto the pitch and helping the team to see out the onslaught from Chelsea and get the victory in the end. There were lots of mixed emotions, lots of happy moments and memories, and delighted to be involved in, and then win, the FA Cup.’
Morgan has always been a player who values trophies over anything else in the game. Such is the prestige of the Champions League that finishing fourth is likened to silverware – but the now 37-year-old, a key member of Claudio Ranieri’s title-winning team of 2016, does not see it that way.
‘When you look back at your career you look back on the trophies,’ Morgan, who made a combined 719 appearances for Nottingham Forest and Leicester, said.
‘If it was the choice of making it into the top four, and playing in the Champions League… I had been fortunate to play in it already, so that might not have been top on my list of priorities anyway, but definitely for me, [I’d rather] trophies.
Morgan was a key member of the Leicester side which won the Premier League title in 2016
‘They are what you look back on at the end of your career…the moments, the memories, the build-up to that final game and when you go and win it…it is all about that when you finish your career.
‘It is nice to play in the Champions League and get a shot at some of the bigger teams in Europe, but trophies for me is what it is all about.’
Since retiring, Morgan has set his sights on an executive-level role in football as he seeks to address what he feels is a lack of diversity in boardrooms across the country.
It is not difficult to see why. Of the 20 Premier League clubs, only two – Arsenal and Wolves – have chief executives, or the equivalent position, who are from a BAME background.
The now 37-year-old made a total of 719 appearances in his career, including 323 for Leicester
Morgan is currently studying for a masters in sporting directorship and hopes to enact change from within.
‘Absolutely I want to address that,’ Morgan says. ‘It is clear to see. You look at the makeup of boardrooms and executive positions, in terms of representation, it is nowhere near diverse enough.
‘It is an issue that has been highlighted and I am working in groups to try and address that. That is not going to happen overnight, the whole makeup of boardrooms and senior management is not going to change quickly. It is going to take time.
‘But there has been some slow progress that is helping, there have been some changes to try and improve things to make it more diverse going forward and a lot of the big organisations are buying into that model. In years to come, we will have a different conversation about this and things will look a lot different.’