Leicester fans march in hon­our of late Thai owner

The Punch - - SPORTS -

Leicester City fans marched in their thou­sands to­wards the King Power Sta­dium on Satur­day, kick­ing off a se­ries of emo­tional trib­utes to late owner Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha two weeks af­ter he was killed in a he­li­copter crash, re­ports.

sup­port­ers braved the pour­ing rain as they made their way through the streets to­wards the ground for the first home match since the tragedy hold­ing Leicester flags and wear­ing club shirts, some with “Vichai” on the back.

There was a sub­dued at­mo­sphere but pock­ets of chant­ing, in­clud­ing “We love you Leicester, we do”, “I’m Leicester till I die” and sim­ply “Vichai”.

Un­der Vichai’s own­er­ship, Leicester pro­duced one of the big­gest up­sets in English foot­ball his­tory by win­ning the 2015/16 Premier League, hav­ing started the sea­son as 5,000-1 out­siders for the ti­tle.

Satur­day’s walk was called the 5,000-1 walk in recog­ni­tion of that as­ton­ish­ing achieve­ment.

The charis­matic Thai had be­come a beloved fig­ure in the club and the city — a feat rarely achieved by Premier League clubs’ of­ten dis­tant bil­lion­aire own­ers.

“No chair­man has done what he’s done with Leicester City. I re­spect all he’s done and not just for the foot­ball club, also char­ity-wise,” said fan Jake Til­son, 35.

“He’s a leg­end. I think foot­ball can learn from him and the way he gave to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

An­other sup­porter, Don Martin, said, “It seems like it’s a cel­e­bra­tion but it’s one of the sad­dest days for the club. It’s recog­ni­tion for the chair­man.

“I’m con­fi­dent about the fu­ture. Top (Vichai’s son) and the rest of the fam­ily will carry on his fa­ther’s legacy. There is no doubt about that,” added the 57-year-old.

Mean­while, the club have an­nounced plans to erect a statue of Vichai at the sta­dium.

His son Aiyawatt, the club’s vice-chair­man who is known as Top, wrote in Satur­day’s match pro­gramme, “We will never be able to re­pay what he did for us — for me as his son, us as his fam­ily, ev­ery­one con­nected to Leicester City and be­yond — but we are com­mit­ted to honour­ing his mem­ory and up­hold­ing his legacy.”

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