The Day Leicester’s Keith Weller Went on Strike at Halftime!

KeithWellerby Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Leicester City’s Keith Weller was an attacking midfielder who could score goals as good as any striker – and he could strike as well as any trade unionist!

On the 20 December 1974 Leicester were playing at home against Ipswich Town. But Weller had more than a game of football on his sometime temperamental mind…

The club were on a losing streak, his recent transfer request had been turned down, the crowd were getting on at him and he was arguing with teammates.

As he trooped off at half-time he decided enough was enough. Once in the dressing room he stripped off his kit and said he was going for an early bath.

One can only imagine what his manager and fellow teammates thought of his antics. Did it contribute to Leicester losing that day? It certainly didn’t help.

This fit of pique got him what he wanted: a transfer request (and something he didn’t want, a club fine).

Eventually Weller and his club settled their differences and it would be another four years before he left Filbert Street.

Keith Weller started his footballing career as a schoolboy on the books of Arsenal FC; turned professional with their north London rivals Spurs in 1964 and went on to lift the European Cup Winners Cup with Chelsea in 1971. He even managed to win four England caps during Joe Mercer’s time as caretaker manager.

But it was at Leicester where he made his name and became a hero among the Filbert Street faithful with his goal scoring prowess… and those tights.

WellerTights

Weller in his infamous tights

The winter of 1978/79 saw a particularly brutal weather grip Britain. In a game against Norwich City that January – a match that went ahead when most of the football programme had been postponed – he wore a pair of white tights beneath his shorts.

The opposing fans in particular made much of his sartorial elegance. Undeterred he scored in his side’s 3-0 victory over the Canaries. That match was to be one of his last for Leicester.

His next move was to the fledgling soccer scene in North America where he excelled as both player and coach. He even found time to run a coffee shop.

Sadly tragedy was to intervene. In 2002 he was diagnosed with cancer. Leicester fans and former colleagues raised money to pay for his treatment. It was all to no avail. Just two years later he was dead at the age of just 58.

Alan Birchenhall, his former team-mate, said: “For me he was one of the five greatest ever players to pull on a Leicester shirt. His death is a tragic loss not just for Leicester but for the whole of English football.”

Ten years on from his passing it is fitting that we should remember the feisty midfielder who did so much to put Leicester City on the footballing map.

 @RichardBowdery

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