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Living the dream - Morgan revels in impressive Premier League rise

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2016 | 2:00 AMAndre Lowe
Morgan

"It has always been a dream of mine to play in the Premier League and I have done." Jamaican international Wes Morgan has not only realised his dream, he is also flourishing, making up for lost time even, as he leads unlikely title contenders Leicester City on a dream campaign.

In many ways, Morgan's rise has mirrored that of his club. It would fit perfectly well in a fairy tale book - Leicester battling with the big boys this season after last year's near relegation and Morgan struggling in the lower leagues before making his top-flight debut at 30.

"I thought the opportunity to play in the Premier League had passed me by. Everyone wants to play at the highest level, and it took a lot longer than I anticipated and wanted, but I got there eventually. I am enjoying it a lot!" Morgan said.

He is today considered one of the most reliable defenders in the English Premier League, but it didn't always look to be heading in that direction for the towering defender.

Morgan was an awkward teenager, overweight with knees that rubbed together - hardly the model look for a footballer.

He arrived at Nottingham Forest in 2002 after being cut from Notts County and spending a couple years at Dunkirk in the lower leagues.

His arrival at Forest on trial was hardly an 'arrival' in truth, with then academy director John Pemberton admitting to hiding the out-of-shape-looking Morgan from the head coach for several months.

The defender would eventually whip himself into shape and worked his way into a first team position at the club.

"Getting released wasn't nice. It was hard to take, but I remained positive and I got a trial at Forest, and that was an opportunity to get back into it, and that's where it all started," Morgan reminisced to bbc.com.

He would end up moving to Leicester after a decade at Forest, where he had developed a reputation has a hard-nosed, studs-to-ankle type of defender. Exactly what the Foxes' coaching staff was looking for.

KEY FACTOR

Eighteen months after making his Premier League debut, Morgan's strength at the back has been a key factor in Leicester's table-topping season.

The defender is averaging 2.7 interceptions; 1.1 tackles; 5.3 clearances and 1.1 blocks per game to rank among the best in the league.

But his focus is on the team and what they can achieve this season.

"To be in the position we are in is an achievement in itself. Anything that happens now is definitely a bonus. People tipped us to be relegated at the start of the season, and we are competing at the top of the league," said Morgan.

"We are just delighted with how things have gone so far.

"We have a real confidence and belief and know that on our day we can be as good, if not better, than anyone out there in this league," he added.

The Jamaican international has not forgotten his roots either and spends his weekdays coaching youngsters, perhaps with his mind on his own struggles at that stage.