Johnny Cantor: Foxes the team of the year after they overcame all odds?

Leicester City celebrate their Premier League title win with an open-top bus parade

Leicester City celebrate their Premier League title win with an open-top bus parade

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The signs are there. You know Christmas is coming. No, not the sub-zero temperatures; no, not the chance to start your day with chocolate from the advent calendar and no, not the festive TV adverts (they’ve been going since October!). It is of course the release of the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

This week I’m not going to be discussing whether anyone can topple Andy Murray, why Chris Frome was omitted nor why Mo Farah has less support than his achievements deserve.

I know it is not the most prestigious award but I want to discuss team of the year. The first thing that strikes me is diversity of any candidates. In an Olympic year, there’s no surprise that Team GB’s golden girls, the hockey team, including West Chiltington’s Maddie Hinch, are in with a shout.

I would certainly say their gold-medal win was one of the most dramatic stories of 2016. The England rugby team could also cap an incredible year with victory over Australia this weekend.

It may be drifting to the back of our memories as they slip down this season’s table but Leicester’s Premier League title was truly astonishing. The club’s achievement in the face of the riches of its rivals was remarkable.

As I reflect on the year’s sport, and particularly football, the Foxes’ title also appears, to me, to have a long-term impact. There were wild celebrations in the city and the whole area must have been given an initial boost. Even the county cricket side started to perform better!

It may or may not have been down to Richard III being laid to rest in his rightful place but I also believe the story of Claudio Ranieri’s team demonstrates one of the key ingredients in sport. Belief. Belief that you can win. Belief in your team-mates. And essentially belief that you can overcome the odds.

They were certainly stacked against Leicester. In other countries there are a few stories brewing this season. In Germany, Bayern Munich are not top of the table. Hard to believe maybe but RB Leipzig, a team formed only in 2009, currently lead the way in the Bundesliga.

Even in Turkey the big sides Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are staring up at Istanbul Buyuksehir. I know there are a few considerations and not every story is the same but I like to see the status quo challenged. Scottish football has suffered from the dominance of just a few sides over the years.

Locally Albion fans and Sussex cricket supporters will be hoping 2017 is the year they both achieve promotion. Incoming chief executive Rob Andrew looks to protect the interests of Sussex CCC while counties who have Test and One Day International venues grow stronger.

Meanwhile at the Amex, the Seagulls are attempting another assault on the Premier League while competing with teams that still receive parachute payments such as Aston Villa and Newcastle. Talent, skill and togetherness are all key to success but they must believe as well. Anyone who does that gets my vote. Have a great week.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com

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