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Leicester players in tears as stadium falls silent to remember Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

November 3, 2018 10:06 AM
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Members of the team are due to fly out to Thailand for the funeral of the club's late owner after the match in Cardiff.

Players shed tears and fans raised their club scarves aloft in tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Two giant flags in memory of the popular tycoon were also unfurled, one of which was "surfed" from Cardiff supporters to the Leicester visitors, as the game got under way.

Ahead of the away fixture at Cardiff City, members of the team wore T-shirts emblazoned with the image of the man, they affectionately called "the boss".

Some 55 minutes in, Demarai Gray scored for Leicester before revealing a message on his T-shirt, dedicating the goal to Mr Srivaddhanaprabha.

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel ran the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations.

The 60-year-old was one of five people killed when the aircraft crashed leaving the ground after the club's 1-1 draw with West Ham last Saturday.

Others who died when the helicopter came down in a car park seconds after taking off from the pitch, were two of his staff members, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's funeral is taking place at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, with members of Thailand's elite expected to pay tribute to the well-connected billionaire.

His body was flown to Thailand on Friday and taken to Wat Debsirindrawas ahead of the official ceremony which lasts until 9 November.

Many of them were close to the club owner and thought of him as a father figure.

A Leicester City fan who was due to attend the match in Cardiff on Saturday told Sky News: "What this guy brought to the club was incredible.

"The Leicester fans... know when things are going right for their club… that's what this guy brought. He gave us belief. He is somebody who is going to be somewhat irreplaceable."

Graeme Smith, chairman of fans group Foxes Trust, said before the game got under way: "It's been very bittersweet. We are pleased that the football is back on but we're not quite sure what to expect yet.

"We want to back the team, the fans want to back the manager, want to back the players, in what must have been a horrendous week.

"We're fans. We don't know the people involved as closely as the players, and it's affected us really deeply, so I can't imagine how the players and managers, who day by day knew Khun Vichai and how he worked, must be feeling."

England and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy told Sky Sports: "We all spoke about... wanting to play, it's what Vichai would've wanted and that's what we are going to do."

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha rose from having a single store in Bangkok to owning the duty-free King Power empire, whose shops are widespread at Thailand's airports.

His funeral ceremony got under way on Saturday with a Buddhist bathing rite using water given by the Thai King.

The honour is traditionally granted at funerals of high-ranking state officials or citizens who had devoted their lives to the good of the country.

The body will be kept for a further 100 days and his cremation will take place at a date in the future.

Outside the temple, Kiatisuk "Zico" Senamuang, a former Thai international player and coach who was also at the Leicester match, said the game had lost an important patron.

"I'm very proud of him... Not only the Thai people but also soccer fans around the world mourn his loss," he said.

A Cardiff fan co-ordinator old Sky Sports that supporters had their own tribute planned for the match on Saturday afternoon.

Vince Alm said the club was putting on food for visiting fans and just before kick-off the home supporters will be "surfing" a flag from the home end to the away stands, where it was to be held aloft for the minute's silence.


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