Leicester City says goodbye to the club’s president. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday evening just after Leicester City – West Ham United match. Vichai held the position of president of the club since 2010 and led The Foxes to winning Premier League in the season 2015/2016.
On Saturday evening, less than an hour after the match Leicester City – West Ham United, Vichai had, as he had a habit, fly by helicopter from the field. The helicopter landed on the pitch when the supporters left the stadium and the players went to the locker room. According to witnesses, when the helicopter flew above the roof of the building, there was a failure of engines which after a while went out. Media and witnesses of the tragedy have hailed the pilot of the helicopter Eric Swaffer as a hero, claiming that he consciously directed the helicopter to a place where there were no people.
Pilot RESCUED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE. IF THE PLANE HIT THE STADIUM, OR EVEN SOMEWHERE NEAR IT, WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD HAPPEN.
– admits one of the witnesses of the tragedy (quotation: source)
On Sunday, October 28, the day after the accident, it was confirmed that Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and all other passengers of the helicopter, including the pilot, were killed in a crash.
Players in mourning
After the helicopter catastrophe, a portrait of Vichia appeared beneath the Leicester City stadium, under which hundreds of fans lighted candles or left flowers, scarves and club shirts. The employees and footballers of the late president also appeared on the site. The players stood in front of the stadium with fans. At first, the U-23 players, and then the first team, gave their tribute. The players then went to the turf, where they lined up around the center circle and waited for the family members of the deceased – wife Aimon and son Aiyawatt, who laid a wreath in the middle of the grass and shook hands with each of the players.
You can see the whole situation here:
Leicester City 1st team squad emerge from King Power stadium and stand with fans to see the extraordinary tribute here pay their respects pic.twitter.com/25ZNeL52AP
— Dan Roan (@danroan) October 29, 2018
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 29, 2018
Condolences for the family and Leicester City have been submitted not only by people associated with the English league, but clubs and footballers from around the world. However, the most moving words came from the closest associates of the late President, who interacted with him every day and they knew him not only as a club owner or a businessman, but above all as a man, father, husband and friend.
One of the beautiful tributes to the Thai businessman is a letter written by Leicester City goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel:
— Kasper Schmeichel (@kschmeichel1) October 28, 2018
Who was Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha?
Vichai was 61 years old. He came from Thailand, but he had Chinese roots. He married Aimon, with whom he has four children. He started his professional career by establishing a chain of duty-free King Power stores. Currently, the chain of stores is one of the biggest tycoons of the industry in the market.
In 2010, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took over the English club Leicester City for a billion. Leicester City was not in the best shape at the time.
In the 2007/2008 season, Leicester City was relegated to Football League One. 2008/09 season was the first for Leicester City spent outside the two highest tiers of English football matches. After a year of break, the club returned to the Championship.
When Vichai took over the position of club president in 2010, he did not demand immediate results, but systematic work that would lead step by step to lead the team to the greatest victories. Under the leadership of the Thai, Leicester City was promoted to the Premier League in the 2013/2014 season and after a 10-year break returned to the top league. Two years later, in the 2015/2016 season, they won the Premier League on two queues before the end of the competition.
The club was not his only occupation. Vichai seemed to want to take care of everyone. He supported many hospitals and universities financially. He also helped the fans. Poor fans of the club had co-financed tickets by Vichai, and if the match was played on a colder day, he funded tea and donuts for viewers.
What’s next with the club?
The media speculate that the position of the president of the club will be taken by the son of Vichia, who until the death of the father served as the vice-president of Leicester City. Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha was the right hand of the father. For ecample, he is responsible for the employment of Claudio Ranieri, with whom the club won the Premier League.
The Leicester City supporters also want changes. Fans would like to change the name of the stadium from King Power Stadium to Khun Vichai Stadium. The fans want to celebrate the memory of Vichia in this way. Their idea was also supported by the son of Vichia. A petition to change the name of the club was made by fans registering it on the portal change.org.