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Playoff heroes: Steve Claridge

Playoff heroes: Steve Claridge
© Reuters
The forward scored a dramatic extra-time goal to return Leicester to the Premier League.

Steve Claridge made sure of an immediate return to the Premier League for Leicester in the most dramatic fashion 24 years ago.

The words 'widely travelled' perhaps do not do Claridge justice. He had 16 league teams and played in England's top four divisions, as well as having spells with six non-league clubs.

He is often remembered for the goal which settled the 1996 play-off final against Crystal Palace, one of those former teams, at Wembley.

With just seconds remaining in extra-time and a penalty shoot-out looking likely, Garry Parker took a free-kick inside his own half.

leicester celeb 3
Steve Claridge, right. celebrates the play-off win over Crystal Palace at Wembley in 1996 with team-mate Garry Parker (PA)

The ball dropped just outside the penalty area for Claridge to run on to and beat Nigel Martyn with a right-footed shot, sparking joyous scenes and taking Martin O'Neill's men back to the top flight.

Interviewed on the pitch afterwards Claridge a £1.2million signing from Birmingham earlier that year, revealed: "I shinned it in" but later told the Leicester Mercury: "That was a stupid thing to say. I hit it properly and sweet."

Claridge's place in Foxes folklore was assured the following year when he scored the winning goal – again in extra-time – in the League Cup final replay against Middlesbrough at the same venue.

Now 54, he went on to play in the Football League as a 40-year-old for Bournemouth and even featured as a substitute in the Southern League at the age of 51, as well as appearing on TV and radio as a pundit.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721

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