PAUL ANDERSON is not an overly-popular figure with Leicester City fans despite being born in the city and raised just 20 miles away in Melton Mowbray.
The rancour is all to do with a goal celebration by the winger when he sported Nottingham Forest colours, to which Foxes fans took exception; they have since given him stick whenever their paths have crossed.
Despite that, the Bradford City winger is full of admiration for how Claudio Ranieri’s side have stunned football this term to lift the Premier League and he puts much of that success down to a trait that he also sees in his own team-mates at Valley Parade.
“It has been great to see Leicester’s success this season,” the 27-year-old told The Yorkshire Post ahead of the Bantams hosting Millwall in tomorrow’s play-off semi-final, first leg.
“I do have quite a lot of banter with them. In my Forest days, I scored a goal against Leicester and had a bit of a celebration in front of all their fans. That has come to bite me on the backside since then because I am from a place in between Leicester and Nottingham.
“But it is all good banter and what I will say is it is an unbelievable achievement what they have done. People have been saying how unbelievable it all is and how no one can understand why it has happened. But if you watch their games, tactically they have been brilliant. Every single player has worked their socks off.
“I was fortunate enough to play with Wes Morgan at Forest. He always had that leadership side to him and I can understand why Leicester have done what they have done.
“I have been in teams who have not necessarily had the best players but have achieved things by working the hardest. And I definitely see that quality here at Bradford.
“These lads know each other inside out. And they have each other’s backs. It pulls us through 90 minutes at times.”
Anderson has had plenty of opportunity to watch Bradford this season after breaking his leg last September, just a couple of months after joining from Ipswich Town. He returned to first-team action on the penultimate weekend as a late substitute in the 1-0 win at Southend United that clinched a play-off place.
A first start followed against Chesterfield last Sunday, but tomorrow is likely to bring a return to the bench. Despite that, Anderson is still hoping to have a big say in Bradford’s push for promotion – especially as his father Phil is already eyeing a Wembley double of his own.
“My dad is from Hull,” explained the Bantams winger, who had a spell at the KC Stadium as a junior before moving to Liverpool in 2005.
“As are a lot of his family. Dad is a Hull fan and I am a Hull fan. I was on holiday for the final (in 2008) when Dean Windass scored that volley.
“I watched it on TV and Dean is a big legend to me for doing that for Hull. Obviously, Hull are in the play-offs, too, this year and my dad has already mentioned the possibility of Hull and Bradford being at Wembley on the same weekend.
“He wants to book his hotel and, basically, live at Wembley for the weekend. So, no pressure for me there then.”
This is a fourth tilt at the play-offs for Anderson and the previous three have ended in semi-final disappointment. A year ago, he hit the headlines after it emerged that Anderson had offered to cover the cost of damage caused by an Ipswich fan celebrating the winger’s equaliser in the semi-final first leg draw with Norwich City. The fan had punched a hole in his own ceiling while watching the game on television but there was to be no happy ending on the pitch due to the Canaries winning the return at Carrow Road.
His other two semi-final exits came at Forest, who were beaten by Blackpool in the 2010 Championship play-offs and then Swansea City a year later.
“By the law of averages, something has to change,” added Anderson. “I am back at the right time. I do see this as a bit of a bonus, really. Realistically, by the time I was going to be fit I felt it could be a bit of a write-off in terms of the season.
“So, us being in the play-offs and playing these extra games is a big bonus for me. Of course, I would have loved to play a bit more. I have been fit for the last two and a bit months.
“But I had to be patient. The lads have only lost once since I got back so I understood. If I had knocked on the manager’s door, all he would have said is, ‘What can I do?’
“I believe I can make the team better. Sometimes, an unsung hero might come from nowhere. I would love that to be me.”