Danny Simpson reflects on Premier League title win
- Danny Simpson on becoming a Premier League Champion
- Town defender discusses his path to that moment
- Feature first seen in Town’s match day programme; ‘The Terrier’
Huddersfield Town defender Danny Simpson looked back on the “surreal moment” that he became a Premier League winner with Leicester City back in 2016.
In a piece that first featured in Town’s match day programme ‘The Terrier’, the defender gave an insight into the Foxes’ remarkable 2015/16 title winning campaign, as well as his career path that helped lead him to that moment.
Danny’s career began in the youth ranks of his boyhood club; Manchester United. In 2006, the opportunity arose for several young players at the Club to go out and get a taste of senior football at Belgian side Royal Antwerp FC; something that the defender was eager to pursue.
“When I made the step up to the Reserve Team, there was the opportunity to go to Antwerp and play senior football,” he recollected.
“I just thought ‘I want that to be me’ and so I went and knocked on Sir Alex Ferguson’s door and asked him if I could be one of the players who goes to Antwerp, which I don’t think many people had ever done.
“I was 19, nearly 20 going to play in Belgium, another country. You learn a lot about yourself. You go from playing in front of 200-400 fans in the Reserves to 8,000 to 10,000 every week.
“Fraizer (Campbell) was there with me too. I think he will agree with me that we grew up a lot there. We walked into the Club and took people’s places when we joined the team, so we had to prove our worth.”
Not long after returning from Belgium, Danny was loaned out to Sunderland in order to continue to his growing development.
Having helped Sunderland to top the Championship in his short time at the Stadium of Light, Danny returned to United ahead of the 2007/08 season and pinpointed the pre-season that followed as a pivotal learning moment for himself as a player.
“I started to understand men’s football, what it takes and learning that you’ve got to be consistent.
“You need your manager to trust that when you cross that line, that you’re going to be solid, especially as a defender; that’s one thing I learnt from Gary Neville. If you can be consistent as a full-back you’re going to have a good career.”
Loan spells with Ipswich Town and Blackburn Rovers, before a successful time on loan with Newcastle United in the first half of the 2009/10 campaign, saw him make a permanent move to St James’ Park in January 2010.
Danny helped the Magpies gain promotion to the Premier League that season, as he did with Queens Park Rangers in 2013/14, before a move to Leicester City later that summer.
After being part of a squad that completed a stunning escape from relegation in his first season, Claudio Ranieri became his, and the Club’s, new manager ahead of what would turn out to be a historic 2015/16 campaign. It was a period that Danny looked back on as “difficult” for him initially.
“I didn’t play the first eight games. He (Claudio Ranieri) told me if I wanted to move on, he could help me, but I didn’t because I believed I was the type of player he would like because he’s Italian and he likes his defenders.
“For two months I didn’t train with the First Team, I was in the Under-23s. I just kept my head down and thought ‘this time I’m going to prove him wrong.’
“One day I got told to go to his office and I had a meeting with him. He said he was sorry that he wanted me to leave but he thought I could do a good job for him at some point and that I’d worked hard.
“Then I started against Norwich and then played every game for the rest of the season, going from strength to strength.
As Danny went from strength to strength, so did the Foxes’ previously unpredictable title bid. The defender looked back on the moment he finally believed what had once seemed to be the impossible, could be achieved.
“Everyone talks about the Man City game when we went there and won 3-0. I think after that game we all kind of looked at each other and thought we’re not bad.
“But, for me, it was the West Ham game towards the end of the season; that’s when I thought we could win the Premier League title. We drew 2-2 and scored a penalty in the last minute. When we came back in the dressing room it felt like we had won. I didn’t believe until that day.”
After returning to Old Trafford and going another point closer following a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on the Sunday, Danny and his teammates were in touching distance of the title.
Anything less than a win for Tottenham Hotspur at Chelsea the following evening would crown the Foxes as Champions.
“We all went to Jamie’s (Vardy) house and the unthinkable happened. I think it was all meant to happen.
“When (Eden) Hazard curled an effort towards goal it was like in slow motion. We all just knew it was going in. We just went mad, but still had a lot of nerves until the final whistle.
“(When it finished) We just went mad. I was in Vardy’s back garden for about an hour crying ringing family and friends.”
Nearly four years on, Danny’s unique footballing journey has brought him to West Yorkshire, and to Huddersfield Town. He still looks back fondly on that remarkable season and the journey that helped it all come together.
“Every single player in that team had their own story. We were all like misfits in one team. It was like a collective thing of misfits who achieved something they probably never thought they’d achieve.
“I felt like everything from kicking a football, getting my first United shirt, being told I was too small, Belgium, the ups and downs, football, my whole journey, came into that surreal moment.
“Winning the Premier League is something I will never ever forget. Everything was meant to happen that way.”