In the aftermath of the Foxes’ draw with West Ham at the King Power Stadium on October 27, the club chief’s helicopter crashed in the stadium’s staff car park – leading to his death and the passing of four others onboard.
Leicester’s mid-week Carabao Cup clash with Southampton was cancelled out of respect for the Thai’s legacy at the club – with Leicester having miraculously won the Premier League title in 2015-16 and played in the Champions League under him in the height of their many achievements during his ownership.
But Claude Puel’s players were insistent on playing away at Cardiff despite the obvious emotional toll the events of the previous week had taken on them.
Schmeichel was one of those to take it hardest with the goalkeeper and Srivaddhanaprabha known to share a close bond.
Schmeichel was still present at the stadium during the crash and is thought to have been one of the first on the scene, reports indicating that police had to intervene to restrain him from trying to help the victims with the helicopter ablaze.
Manager Puel confirmed: “I don’t want to give all the details of course. Just for Kasper, he saw a lot of things. Kasper, like other players, are devastated. All my squad have a lot of sadness and upset.”
The Danish international – who penned a lengthy open letter to the owner – was visibly moved during the pre-match minute’s silence while tributes were paid to Srivaddhanaprabha by both clubs and both sets of supporters on a touching afternoon.
Players and fans wore t-shirts adorning a picture of Srivaddhanaprabha with his nickname, ‘The Boss’ while many banners – in the away end and also the home end – were also dedicated to the late 61-year-old.
Events on the pitch practically paled into insignificance but Demarai Gray’s second-half strike gave Leicester victory on their day of remembrance at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Gray unveiled an undershirt sporting, ‘For Khun Vichai’ with Schmeichel running the length of the pitch to get involved in the celebrations.
And there were more incredible scenes after the full time whistle, as Leicester’s players and staff – and their Travelling fans – united to honour Srivaddhanaprabha.
Dedicating the three points to Srivaddhanaprabha, Schmeichel paid a touching tribute in an interview with Match of the Day host Gary Lineker as he spoke about the impact he had on the club and the entire city.
You can read the full transcript below.
Full transcript of Kasper Schmeichel’s Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha tribute
Gary Lineker: Kasper, that victory seemed to mean a lot…
Kasper Schmeichel: “It did. That was a tough game, not just on the pitch but mentally it was a tough game for all of us. Coming out for the warm up was tough. The first 10 minutes I couldn’t steady myself, I was kind of shaking a little bit. But I’m immensely proud of this team and immensely proud of this club. The way everyone’s handled themselves has been unbelievable. You can see from the reaction from people around the world what kind of a man Khun Vichai was and we were very lucky to know him.”
GL: Try and describe to us what the last week has been like for a player of Leicester City football club…
KS: “It’s been hard, it goes without saying. It’s been a hard week. We tried to, for a few hours a day at least, try and be professional, train hard and prepare for this game. Everybody wanted to play this game, everybody wanted to win for him and his family. His family, I can’t even begin to describe how strong they’ve been, the courage that they’ve had. Just an overwhelming sense of pride at the moment at being a part of the family that Khun Vichai built, the extended family of Leicester City and also his closest.”
GL: Tell us what he was like as a chairman of Leicester City…
KS: “You couldn’t ask for a better chairman. Very few people come along in this life that really have an impact on you. He had an impact on me but not just me, so many people. You can see the outpouring of grief from around the world. But particularly on this squad, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you, he’d help you in absolutely anything. He was always available to the players, to the staff, not just the immediate playing staff – any staff at the stadium. I think you can see from the reaction of people what he meant to everybody. Without him, we weren’t here, none of this was possible. All the memories we’ve made together as a family, without him it would have never happened so again, overwhelming sense of pride to be part of it.”
GL: And all the players are now heading out to Thailand for the funeral?
KS: “Everybody grieves in different ways and the opportunity was offered to the players to go to Thailand and pay their respects to him and everybody kind of wanted to go. That was a decision that everybody wanted to go. If you didn’t want to, that was respected. Like I say, everybody was their own way of dealing with it but we’re a family, we don’t judge. Everybody wanted to pay their last respects together.”
Source : EXPRESS