The goalkeeper says most of the Leicester team have had to fight against rejection earlier in their careers and have now come too far in Europe’s elite competition just to chuck it all away.
The 30-year-old played League Two football for Notts County after being shown the door at Manchester City and, on the eve of this clash at the Vicente Calderon, he said: “When you look at the DNA of our team, the type of characters and the journeys we have been on, the lower league rejections, then these are the kind of nights you want.
“When I was in League Two, playing these sort of games was what I was wanting to aim for. The big pressure games like this, this is what you live for, what you play for.”
Schmeichel almost single-handedly secured Leicester’s path to the last eight with a string of breathtaking stops and two penalty saves against Sevilla.
Kasper Schmeichel believes being rejected in the past has made him the player he is today
Kasper Schmeichel played for Notts County after leaving Manchester City
“For me, as a keeper, it is all about consistency and performing at a consistent level,” he said. “I feel I’ve been at high level for a long time. It just gets noticed more in the Champions League but I’m happy with where I am and it’s about doing the same things I have always done.”
The Danish international will skipper the side in the absence of defender Wes Morgan who has not been able to shake off a back problem. “Being captain is something you always dream of,” said Schmeichel. “It’s a shame the circumstances surrounding it [getting the captaincy]. I would much rather have Wes ready to play.
“He has been to every game, home and away, being captain and leading the team. That’s his way. He’s a natural leader and I think it is great that he is there with us at every game, leading with his influence.”
Arsenal fans fuming as Leicester triumph in Champions League Tue, March 14, 2017
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Arsenal fans furious as Leicester reach the Champions League quarter finals
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Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare confirmed that they would be without their inspirational talisman, saying: “He has no chance. He’s here and travelled with the team but he will play no part in the game.”
Shakespeare said his men have no need to be in awe of Atletico’s big-name players, who are headed up by Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann.
“We will show them the respect they deserve,” said Shakespeare. “Atletico’s style is well documented in terms of a team they press high. But it is about what we do. We are aware their strengths, but we are also aware of our strengths.
“In Griezmann we are talking about one player but they are more about the team than the individual. They have some world class players but collectively, it is more than just about one man.”
Schmeichel was Leicester's hero against Sevilla in the last round of the Champions League
Shakespeare says his side will not be going out with any intention other than going through. “It’s a dream game,” he said. “You have new experiences as this has been playing in the Champions League.
“We have enjoyed it but we are there to compete and not to just make the numbers up. These players have earned their opportunity and we intend to keep that going.
“You do have to pinch yourself at times but these are the nights that drive you on When you look back at where the club has come from, walking in this ground past all the cups, it gives you a little tingle.
“But we’re here now and you have to make sure you enjoy it by getting a result.”