Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha — More than a businessman
Last Night it was announced that Leicester City’s Thai owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, had passed away following his personal helicopter crashing upon take off.
The news was met with sadness and dismay with not just Leicester supporters, but football fans as a whole. You see, Vichai was the writer of sport’s greatest fairytale, His Leicester side’s 2015/16 Premier League triumph, the minnows going against 5000/1 odds to historically win domestic football’s most prestigious honour.
Vichai bought the club in August 2010, just before the start of Leicester’s 2nd Season back in the Championship after a season in League One, England’s third tier of professional football. In Srivaddhanaprabha’s first season in charge the foxes finished 10th — But showed a definite statement of intent by spending over £2,000,000 to bring in Martyn Waghorn — a significant figure for a club stricken with debts until Vichai himself cleared them. However, the following season was when the magic started to begin. Club icons Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Drinkwater and Wes Morgan all came into the club, all of whom would end up lifting the Premier League title with the club.
In 2012 arrived a certain Jamie Vardy, and in the 2013/14 season, Riyad Mahrez joined the club, and a championship title followed suit.
The Celebrations looked to be short lived for the foxes, with the side immediately sinking to 20th in the Premier League table despite the arrivals of winger Marc Albrighton from neighbouring Aston Villa and legendary Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, who proved age is just a number with some great performances. However, as Vichai proved multiple times in his reign at Leicester, miracles do happen. 7 wins in their last 9 games saw the club finish in a very respectable 14th place. Surely heroic manager Nigel Pearson would be there to stay for a long while? Wrong. Pearson was dismissed after a collapse in his relationship with Vichai, following his son, James and 2 other players, goalkeeper Adam Smith and striker Tom Hopper. There was shock throughout the world of football, but also an eagerness to find out Pearson’s successor.
Who was it? Two Words:
The appointment was met with confusion by many, notably Leicester legend Gary Lineker. Who tweeted “Claudio Ranieri? Really?” Little did Gary know just how badly that would come back to bite him. A bit like that time he took a shit on the pitch, I guess.
Despite the initial criticism, Ranieri proved to be no clown, signing players such as playmaker and all round nice guy N’Golo Kanté and making no-nonsense defender Robert Huth’s stay at the club a permanent one. And I think we all know what happened next. The Iconic Leicester side went on to famously lift the Premier League trophy, with Jamie Vardy scoring 24 goals and breaking Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of most goals in consecutive games, netting in 11 matches in a row.
It isn’t just the Foxes’ form on the pitch where Vichai shined. He was a philanthropist and a hero to the residents of Leicester. From donating £2,000,000 to a Leicester children’s hospital to buying the entire Leicester squad a £105,000 BMW. It is absolutely clear that Leicester City Football Club was far more than a business for Vichai.
Not only was he the writer of football’s greatest story, he was also an amazing person.
Sleep Well, Vichai.
“You changed football. Forever! You gave hope to everyone that the impossible was possible, not just to our fans but all over the world in any sport!” — Kasper Schmeichel
Struggling to find the right words….but to me you are 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 — Jamie Vardy
This article was originally published on my personal site in October 2018