It’s not about foot­ball to­day

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Lon­don

– Leicester re­turn to ac­tion at the King Power Sta­dium to­day with foot­ball a mere af­ter­thought as fans pre­pare to pay heart­felt trib­ute to the man who turned their dreams into as­ton­ish­ing re­al­ity.

Man­ager Claude Puel’s pre­match prepa­ra­tions for the game against Burnley were dis­rupted af­ter he and a num­ber of play­ers, in­clud­ing Jamie Vardy and Kasper Sch­me­ichel, trav­elled to Thai­land to pay re­spects to the late Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha.

Leicester owner Vichai was killed in a he­li­copter crash just out­side the ground along with four other peo­ple af­ter his club’s 1-1 home draw on Oc­to­ber 27.

His shock­ing death sent shock­waves through Leicester, where the charis­matic Vichai had be­come a beloved fig­ure in the club and the city.

It was un­der Vichai’s own­er­ship that Leicester crafted one of the big­gest fairy­tales in English foot­ball his­tory by win­ning the 2015/16 Premier League, hav­ing started the sea­son as 5,000-1 out­siders for the ti­tle.

A spe­cial “Trib­ute to Khun Vichai” video will be shown on big screens be­fore kick-off fol­lowed by a two-minute si­lence and fans will re­ceive com­mem­o­ra­tive scarves and sou­venir match­day pro­grammes.

Trib­ute T-shirts will be worn by the play­ers dur­ing their warmup and Khun Vichai’s name will be em­broi­dered on the team’s shirts dur­ing the first half.

The sec­ond-half shirts will bear the em­broi­dered poppy sym­bol in hon­our of those who have given their lives in war, with the match selected as the club’s an­nual re­mem­brance fix­ture, 100 years af­ter the end of World War I.

“We know our fans, they are fan­tas­tic ... there were 3 000 of them at our last game in Cardiff, it was a fan­tas­tic re­u­nion with the fans,” Puel (above) said.

“Af­ter the game, there was a lot of emo­tion that we shared with them.”

Puel ad­mit­ted pre­par­ing for the game against strug­gling Burnley had been tough, with emo­tions run­ning high.

“It’s not easy to pre­pare this game, but the to­geth­er­ness be­tween us all, it’s a good feel­ing, a good en­ergy, a fan­tas­tic strength,” he added. – AFP

Af­ter the game, there was a lot of emo­tion that we shared with them. Claude Puel Leicester City man­ager

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