Image Credit: [Adrian Dennis/Getty Images]
The Leicester City chairman sadly passed away in a helicopter crash after watching his beloved team play.
After Leicester’s home match against West Ham concluded, most football fans were preparing for an ordinary Saturday night with fans at the King Power piling out and others watching on the TV. However, along with the earlier news of Glenn Hoddle’s heart attack, another tragedy would occur on the exact same day – right outside where the Leicester game had finished.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprapbha, the dynamic figure behind Leicester’s jaw-dropping Premier League success, tragically passed away alongside two fellow members of staff, the pilot and a passenger. His helicopter lost control, and crashed in the car park next to the King Power – the very stadium in which Leicester were able to clinch the Premier League title.
Affectionately known as ‘The Boss’, the impact Vichai had upon English football cannot be understated. The 2015-16 season began with Leicester tipped for relegation to the Championship, 5000-1 odds with the bookmakers for the Premier League title. But, under The Boss’ guidance, Leicester managed the unthinkable and somehow managed to become Premier League champions.
Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, relative unknown quantities from France, became integral parts of the Leicester City jigsaw – both acquisitions made by Vichai himself. He too was chairman for the campaign where Jamie Vardy broke records by scoring in eleven consecutive matches for The Foxes. Whenever we cast our eye back at that mind-boggling season, Vichai remains the architect behind the unthinkable – which only makes his loss even more impactful.
The outpouring of grief from the wider footballing world showcases the unity that football can produce in moments of immense tragedy. Leicester City are not alone in their moment of despair; fans from a diverse range of clubs gave various items to a makeshift memorial outside The King Power, and laid a colourful array of scarves along the stadium’s pavements.
Srivaddhanaprapbha didn’t only touch the footballing aspects of Leicester, he was also a keen advocate of charity, donating large sums to children’s hospitals within Leicester and helping out the city which he called home from 2010 when he took over as Leicester’s chairman. Riddled with debt and marooned in Championship football, Vichai managed to transform Leicester into a sustainable Premier League club who managed the impossible. He was a generous man throughout the whole process.
Although his tragic loss was still in everyone’s thoughts, it was remarkable to see Leicester City play Cardiff City, a mere week after the shock helicopter crash, before flying out to Thailand to pay their respects at their chairman’s funeral.
If anything good can come out of the bleakness, it’s the notion that the players can continue his legacy, helped by a passionate fanbase who took Vichai into their hearts.