Leicester City’s players have sung the praises of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, saying they have been rocked by the death of their popular owner.
The Thai businessman and four others were killed when his helicopter fell to ground and burst into flames at the south east end of the King Power Stadium on Saturday, shortly after the Foxes’ draw with West Ham.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who captained Leicester on Saturday, said in a Twitter post: “I cannot believe this is happening. I am so totally devastated. I just cannot believe what I saw last night.”
“It is difficult to put into words how much you have meant to this football club and the city of Leicester. We all know about the investment in the football club you and your family have made. But this is about so much more. You cared so deeply for the entire community. Your endless contribution to Leicester’s hospitals and charities will never be forgotten.”
He added: “We now have a responsibility as a club, as players and fans to honour you. From knowing you we do this by being the family you created. By sticking together and supporting those closest to you through (this) horrendous time.
“You will never know how much you meant to me and my family. I am truly honoured and privileged to have been a small part of your life.”
England defender Harry Maguire hailed Srivaddhanaprabha as a “truly great, kind, loving man”.
“Words can’t describe how I feel. A truly great, kind, loving man who will be missed so much by everyone. I will never forget the Chairman’s support, not only during my time @LCFC but also during the World Cup,” Maguire wrote on Twitter.
Fellow City defender and England left-back Ben Chilwell hailed “one of the best people you could wish meet”.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “Vichai was one of the best people you could wish to meet. Making you happy made him happy, he was always smiling and laughing.
“What he did not just for this football club but for Leicester as a city is incredible! He has brought us all together. So now we must stay together as a city and achieve what he knew we could.”
Jamie Vardy, whose meteoric rise through the leagues was matched step-by-step by the club as they came from nowhere to win the Premier League in 2016, called Srivaddhanaprabha “a legend”.
He said on Instagram: “Struggling to find the right words, but to me you are a legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club. Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you, may you rest in peace.”
Srivaddhanaprabha was the driving force of Leicester’s rise from the Championship to the top of the Premier League, bringing together a group of players who were superbly guided by manager Claudio Ranieri.
Wes Morgan was the captain of that side and said: “Absolutely heartbroken and devastated regarding the news of our chairman. A man that was loved and adored by everyone here at LCFC and someone who I personally had the utmost respect for.”
Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who scored the Foxes’ equaliser on Saturday, wrote on Twitter: “You were far too kind and supportive. Thank you for all you did for the club, for always encouraging the team and coming all the way to watch me play at the World Cup. Rest on sir”.
Leicester’s EFL Cup tie with Southampton on Tuesday has been postponed.