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Jonny Evans: I've never seen anything like Leicester excitement when Brendan Rodgers was appointed

 

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Flying high: Jonny Evans is flourishing under the leadership of fellow Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers

Flying high: Jonny Evans is flourishing under the leadership of fellow Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers

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Brendan Rodgers caused quite a stir when he agreed to take charge of Leicester, according to Jonny Evans

Brendan Rodgers caused quite a stir when he agreed to take charge of Leicester, according to Jonny Evans

Getty Images

Flying high: Jonny Evans is flourishing under the leadership of fellow Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers

Northern Ireland star Jonny Evans has revealed that the players at Leicester City were sure Brendan Rodgers would transform the team even before he walked in the door.

Evans says when it became clear his fellow Ulsterman was leaving Celtic in February last year to take charge at the King Power Stadium, excitement levels at the club went through the roof.

The fevered anticipation was followed by positive results. When the Premier League was called to a halt in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Foxes were in third place behind runaway leaders Liverpool and Manchester City and well on course to qualify for the Champions League for only the second time in their history.

The first was when Claudio Ranieri stunned the football world by guiding Leicester to the title in 2016. Ranieri was sacked less than a year later. Craig Shakespeare and Claude Puel were also ditched as the Foxes faltered.

Since the arrival of Rodgers, who won seven domestic trophies out of seven in an extraordinarily successful spell at Celtic, the midlands outfit have performed brilliantly.

"It's been really, really enjoyable working under Brendan," Evans told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Whenever we found out that Brendan was being mentioned for the job, there was a large amount of excitement around our club.

"It was a strange situation because I had never experienced that where everyone was desperate to get a manager in.

"We knew he could transform us and even the excitement after his first meeting, where he came to watch our game against Brighton and spoke to us, was clear to see. Since that day it has been a pleasure."

Ex-Liverpool boss Rodgers views the experienced Evans as an influential figure on and off the pitch at Leicester. The former Manchester United star has been in supreme form this season.

"It has been a good season. One of my main priorities was to improve and stay fit and be available for every game," said Evans.

"I don't think I have missed a game this season through injury. It's something I have been trying to do, working really hard. I have started every single Premier League game which was a big aim at the start and I have been able to contribute to the team in a good way.

"We surprised everyone with how we started. We went on a really good run up to the Christmas period and put ourselves in a great position.

"The second part of the season was a different test for us. It has been a big learning experience because we have a young team. We are constantly trying to work our way through games and Brendan is very good at keeping his composure and challenging us mentally to improve and evolve as a team."

While Evans will be a key player for Leicester should this season's Premier League resume, the centre-back will also be vital for Northern Ireland when they face Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final on a date to be confirmed.

"I think we are in an unbelievable position," said the 32-year-old.

"The experience of having played in Bosnia previously in the Nations League will help us. It will be like a cup final and then if we win that playing against the Republic or Slovakia at Windsor Park for a place in the Euro finals would be an amazing night."

Belfast Telegraph