Funeral for an injured owner: farewell to the head

Funeral for an injured owner: farewell to the head

A week ago Leicester City's injured club boss was buried in Bangkok. Now also the north English city took leave of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.


By Sven Haist, Leicester

Nobody will forget this November 10, 2018 at Leicester City. At the center circle, the employees gathered after the league match against Burnley to pay tribute to the Thai club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a memorial round.

In a helicopter crash after Leicester's previous home game two weeks ago, Srivaddhanaprabha had died in the adjoining parking lot with four other people. In the presence of his brother Apichet Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha led the funeral procession for his father, with whom he had jointly led the club as his deputy. In the stands, 32,243 people bowed to the Khun Vichai – a title of deserving person in the Kingdom of Thailand – shouting for him and wearing white scarves bearing the mourning ceremony motto in black: "Mr. Chairman – forever in our hearts ".

Already at the ceremony a quarter of an hour before the start of the game, it was the most difficult to hold back the tears. With a five-minute video homage, Leicester City sent a last salute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who once rose to become one of the richest men in his homeland through a duty-free company. The foray made his commitment to the club, which he took over for about 45 million euros in 2010. Allegedly because his son Aiyawatt, short Top fell in love with the club when he was on a guest trip to England the League Cup final in 1997 between Leicester City and Middlesbrough FC pursued.

Around the stadium are flowers, jerseys, pictures, letters

The sequences of the film showed Srivaddhanaprabha as what he had always been for the club: the head of the family. On the video screens his likeness was as on the front page of the stadium, which was dedicated to him with anecdotes and guest contributions. The advertising boards on the sidelines showed this time almost no advertising – but condolences. Flowers, jerseys, pictures and letters of sympathy are still scattered around the stadium and the club has provided the condolence book with a book of condolence. After the minute's silence on the field just before kick-off, the fans stopped for the 60-year-old Srivaddhanaprabha once again after 60 minutes, with applause and chants.

On the honorary stand, the space to the left side of his son Aiyawatt, where Khun Vichai always followed his club's games, remained vacant. "It was pure emotion, it was important to do our best for our chairman," said Claude Puel, who took over as coach from Leicester in October 2017. On Instagram, striker Jamie Vardy, who had a particularly close relationship with Srivaddhanaprabha, wrote: "Many thanks to our terrific fans who helped us so much over the past two games."

He once again taught the fans to dream

Tens of thousands of people joined together at noon on Jubilee Square in the city center for the so-called "5000/1" vote in the stadium. This tribute march was a reminder that Srivaddhanaprabha – who received his name ("Light of Progressing Glory") for his services in Thailand – had made dreams come true for fans in the dreary East Midlands. In the first championship of 1884 founded club in the season 2015/16 surprised Leicester City, according to the odds of the betting shops as a five-thousand-to-one outsider, the prolific rivals of the Premier League.

With a defense that left nothing to chance, and an attack that left everything to chance, the relegation candidate managed a season that is still unparalleled in England. The Italian master coach Claudio Ranieri led his compatriot Andrea Bocelli to the center circle before the last home game of the season. On stage, Bocelli opened the title celebration with "Time to Win Again" in front of the world, where players danced around the trophy with Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. He was buried in Bangkok a week ago. "His dream, his work has changed the lives of many here," said Puel, "all people want to continue the work for him and his family."

The players were in the duel with Burnley to note how much they would have given their former boss a goal and a victory. The statistic showed 22 shots and 12 corners. But maybe that was a good thing that this project did not work at zero zero. Because the people came this time not because of goals and points in the stadium, but to pay tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha again.

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