Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri praised captain fantastic Wes Morgan after the skipper shook off sickness to strengthen his side's grip on the title.
Morgan has been an ever-present this season and headed the winner in the Foxes' 1-0 win over Southampton on Sunday to send them seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
He only returned from international duty with Jamaica on Friday and also missed a break last summer because he was playing in the Gold Cup for his country.
And, after the defender's first goal of the season, Ranieri said the 32-year-old was his leader on the pitch.
He said: "If you can imagine he didn't have a holiday this season. After the national team in July he came here and I gave him some days off and during the season I gave him some days off because he needs them.
"He came back on Friday and was cold and tired. All the players are important and Wes is fantastic, but he is a strong man and a good example for everyone.
"When he speaks everyone listens, but everyone is a leader in my dressing room because everyone knows what I want."
In his Daily Telegraph column, Harry Redknapp suggested Morgan should have played for England by now, seemingly unaware the player has been capped 25 times by Jamaica.
Morgan added to Sky Sports: "I've been getting a lot of stick because I haven't scored all season so it's great to shut them up. I was quite ill yesterday but obviously I wanted to play."
Tottenham's 1-1 draw at Liverpool handed Leicester the chance to extend their lead in the table and Ranieri believes they answered any doubters.
He said: "It was a good answer to the Premier League because now everybody is waiting for us after the Liverpool v Tottenham draw. We gave a very good answer.
"I am very calm. We believe in what we are doing, we believe it's a magical season and believe next season won't be the same, but then we try. We try to do our best. Other teams can win 3-0, 4-0, we have to fight to win 1-0. We must be focused in our way."
Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha also paid for free doughnuts and beer for fans to celebrate his birthday on Monday.
"We sung happy birthday to him in the dressing room before the match and I asked the players to give him a good present, three points," Ranieri said.
Sadio Mane missed Southampton's best chance when Danny Simpson blocked his goalbound shot after he rounded Kasper Schmeichel, but boss Ronald Koeman claimed Simpson stopped it with his hand and said Robert Huth was also guilty of handball in the box after the break.
"The chance of Mane is handball off his (Simpson's) arm. It's a penalty and it's a red card. It makes it totally different and the second is the cross of Charlie Austin, defended by handball," he added.
"I asked him (referee Michael Oliver) to see the clip, but it's not allowed for them to see the clip. Maybe if he stays home with his family he will realise he made a big, big, big mistake."